Schiff Offers Bipartisan Amendment to Establish Clearly Defined Laws Prohibiting Torture and Inhumane Treatment

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adam Schiff today offered a bipartisan amendment in the House Judiciary Committee that would establish clearly defined laws to prohibit torture and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment of military detainees.  The legislation was aimed at ensuring that interrogators and officials have sufficient notice of what conduct could subject them to liability.  This legislation will help protect our troops proscribing torture or inhumane treatment.  Congressman Schiff’s amendment to the Military Commissions Act sparked over two hours of debate. It lost on a close vote of 17 to 18. 

“When American troops are captured on the battlefield, I want them given every protection of the Geneva Convention,” Schiff said.  “If we rewrite the rules of the Convention in how we handle our own detainees, we undermine the security of our own troops.”

Congressman Schiff’s Amendment was very similar to legislation authored by Senators John Warner (R-VA), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), which enjoyed strong bipartisan support in the Senate. Congressman Schiff’s amendment along with the Warner/McCain/Graham legislation clearly defines “cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment” as any conduct that would be unconstitutional under the 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments of the Constitution.