Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that the United States prohibits all its personnel from using cruel or inhuman techniques in prisoner interrogations, whether inside or outside U.S. borders. Previous public statements by the Bush administration have asserted that the ban did not apply abroad.
U.S. obligations under the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, extend as “a matter of policy” to “U.S. personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the United States or outside of the United States,” Rice said here at a news conference with Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yushchenko.
Even after Rice made her remarks, administration aides turned aside suggestions that she was breaking new ground. In Washington, Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, told reporters that Rice was only expressing existing policy.
McClellan’s comment appears to be based on a written answer that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales gave in late October to a question posed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. In answer to Question 158, Gonzales wrote that the administration’s policy is to abide by provisions barring cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment “even if such compliance is not legally required, regardless of whether the detainee in question is held in the United States or overseas.”
Those words, buried in the document, passed largely unnoticed and the new policy was never publicly articulated until Rice spoke in Kiev on Wednesday.
The McCain bill, passed by the Senate, would put into law a ban on torture and lesser forms of abuse. Congressional aides said Wednesday that conferees were poised to accept the McCain language on detainees and that they expected the measure to pass easily in the House of Representatives.
The administration is “accepting reality” that Congress supports a broad ban on mistreatment of prisoners, one aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Members of Congress in both parties have come to fear that opposing McCain’s language could be seen as supporting torture, the aide said.
She’s dancing as fast as she can and so far it’s Cheney – 0, McCain 1, a very big 1, at that.
One military legal analyst said the Bushies caved on torture because they had a “preposterous legal argument” that they couldn’t win.
Rice began the week by bitch slapping the Europeans, only to be reduced to saying that the el-Masri case should never have happened, to now completely backtracking on Bush’s water boarding policy for all those facing rendition.
Any way you look at this, Terror Guy and his team come out admitting they were sadists in a world of humanists. They lost the global war on torture they’ve waged for years.
John McCain fought hard and won this victory for us all.
The big loser in this continues to be W.’s Dick, who it seems has lost all influence, except as a prized performing propaganda pig who’s trotted out only on push the president’s policy days.