The Battle over Torture
Let's start with the fact that I'm totally opposed to torture. Period. It's grotesque. It's inhumane. It doesn't produce reliable results. An all around evil thing to do.
So it was with relief that I read Condolezza Rice's statement:
"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," Rice told reporters in Ukraine.
This is welcome step forward from the old policy which was we don't torture on US soil, but it leaves some gaping holes. In fact, thes hole are wide enough that it makes me wonder if it isn't just a clever attempt at obfuscation -- sort of a "of course we don't support torture" while taking advantage of any and every ambiguity possible. In particular:
1) What about "extraordinary rendition?" Are we going to continue shipping people to Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc and letting those governments torture them. Sure, we won't do it ourselves, but we'll get someone else to...
2) What about non-US personal on US bases. Do we get some Cubans to handle the ugly stuff at Gitmo and that makes everything is hunky-dory?
3) How exactly do you define cruel and unusual? I'm sure I would have a much more extensive list than the US government. Even the international standards are going to be open to interpretation -- just how loosely or tightly are we going to understand them?
The other thing that makes Condi's announcement a bit suspicious is the timing. Couldn't come at a better time to take the wind our of Senator McCain's sails as he tries to get anti-torture legislation through Congress. The timing alone makes me think this is more a pr move than anything else.