Condi says we don't torture

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "clarified" the US policy on torture on Wednesday:

"As a matter of U.S. policy, the United States' obligations under the CAT (Convention against Torture), which prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment -- those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the United States or outside of the United States."
This announcement is being treated as big news in the mainstream media--an unambiguous commitment against torture.

Marty Lederman of Balkinization challenges the spin:
This is dead wrong. Her statement (a) is nothing new; and (b) leaves a ton of room for ambiguity.
Top US officials issued even stronger renunciations of cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment in January, and again in September, 2005:
And yet, notwithstanding these assurances about U.S. "policy," the CIA practices of waterboarding, and hypothermia, and forcing prisoners to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours, presumably continued unabated. See here. Moreover, the Vice President continued to fight tooth and nail to prevent the McCain Amendment, even going so far as to threaten a Presidential veto of the Defense Appropriations bill! And then the Administration began to insist on a CIA exemption. This is awfully odd behavior if, in fact, our uniform policy and practice was already to ensure undeviating compliance with the prohibitions in Article 16.
As for clarity, Condi still won't give a straight answer about what US policy and the CAT have to say about how the US can treat aliens detained abroad.


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