Balkinization  

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rice: "U.S. Personnel" Don't Enage in Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment "Wherever They Are"

JB

If Secretary Rice is to be believed, the Administration has now retreated from its earlier positions on prisoner interrogation, closing a few obvious loopholes by stating (1) that as matter of policy it does not engage in cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (broader than torture), (2) that the ban applies to all U.S. personnel (which would presumably include the C.I.A. and other covert operatives), and (3) that the ban applies outside U.S. territories as well as within them (which would cover C.I.A. run black sites in Eastern Europe or elsewhere).

This from the Washington Post:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that the United States had barred all of its personnel from engaging in cruel or inhumane interrogations of prisoners. Her statement appears to mark a significant shift in U.S. policy.

"As a matter of U.S. policy, the United States' obligations under the C.A.T. [U.N. 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," Rice said during a news conference with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.


At this point it is unclear why the Administration would continue to oppose the McCain Amendment whether or not it contains Lindsey Graham's habeas stripping provision. And indeed, the New York Times reports that the White House "has all but abandoned its effort to persuade Senator John McCain to exempt Central Intelligence Agency employees from legislation barring inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners in American custody." Nevertheless, the White House is negotiating for "narrower language that could make it harder to prosecute intelligence officers charged with violating torture standards," and Senator McCain, according to reports, "has offered to include some language, modeled after military standards, under which soldiers can provide a defense if a "reasonable" person could have concluded that he or she was following a lawful order about how to treat prisoners."

Comments:

"If Secretary Rice is to be believed." That is the problem with the rest of your post.

IIRC from logic class, any if-then proposition is true if the "if" clause is false: "if monkeys fly out of Secretary Rice's butt, then we are not torturing or abusing any prisoners."
 

Anderson, did they teach you the value of context in your logic classes? Because, believe me, to start a commentary regarding any of Secretary Rice's statements in relation to the War on Terror (or anyone else's in the present Administration on the same issue) implying that you should take it with a grain of salt is not only not illogical, it's almost mandatory. Says who? Go to the official sources (i.e., the websites of the Department of Defense and the Department of State), and you'll notice some very *logical* flaws.
 

The “if” translates to logic, yes, but the genuine interpretation we can get out of it is – unchecked power. What I mean is that these restraints are self imposed; thus, we can not expect them to hold for long. It’s like those New Year's resolution we always make, but hardly ever keep..
 

The statement also says nothing about "extraordinary rendition", so even if she's not lying out of her ass, we can still kidnap, drug and transport people to places where the non-American authorities will degrade and torture them, just as long as we don't know that for sure.
 

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