Oct. 22, 2004 – Congressional Democrats accused the Republican majority of trying to eliminate debate this week on a controversial intelligence bill that could allow the US government to deport immigrants to countries that allow torture.
The bill was originally created in response to the 9/11 Commissionâ€™s report calling for a restructured intelligence agency, but the House version contains provisions not endorsed by the Commission -- including severe restrictions on asylum seekers. Congressional negotiators are currently reconciling the differing versions already passed in the House and Senate.
However, Democratic legislators claim Republican negotiators are going through the process without consulting them -- a move they say is designed to rush through controversial provisions, like the deportation of immigrants to countries that condone torture, before the November presidential election.
"The torture provisions in the House bill make a mockery of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations," Representative Edward J. Markey, (D-Mass.) told the Boston Globe, adding that the measure is "inconsistent with international treaties, and it is contrary to our nation's values." Markey and 59 other lawmakers wrote to Congressional negotiators yesterday asking them to remove the torture provision from the final bill.
Negotiators will work through the weekend to reconcile the two bills. A final version is expected to be signed by President Bush before the November election.