Secretary Rice’s Comments on Secret Detentions and Torture Obscure the Facts and the Law
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s remarks today defending U.S. counterterrorism policies as compliant with the U.S. Constitution, laws and treaty obligations are difficult to square with as-yet undisputed reports that the United States has authorized mock drowning, sleep deprivation, forcing detainees into “stress positions” and dousing them with cold water in frigid cells. Secretary Rice departed for Europe today, where the United States is under increasing pressure from European governments to explain reports that the US is holding terrorist suspects in C.I.A.-operated secret detention centers there and in other nations throughout the world.
“It should be obvious by now that repeating the mantra ‘we don’t torture’ in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary is not enough. No matter how many times Secretary Rice — or the President for that matter — says ‘we don’t torture,’ actions speak louder than words,” said Elisa Massimino, Washington Director of Human Rights First. “If the United States is, as a matter of policy, subjecting detainees to mock drowning and other techniques it has historically condemned as torture, the Secretary’s words unfortunately don’t mean much.” The Bush Administration meanwhile continues to lobby against the McCain anti-torture amendment that would reinforce the ban on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, a ban that Secretary Rice acknowledged in her remarks earlier today and claimed that the United States is observing. “It’s hard to know what meaning to attach to the Secretary’s words when the Administration is fighting tooth and nail for a legal loophole to abuse prisoners.”