Thursday, December 08, 2005

Europe Not Concerned About Secret Prisons Anymore

Yesterday I wrote about Condoleezza Rice's announcement that the U.S. government has instructed its personnel that cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners is banned, in accordance with the U.N. Convention Against Torture. She added that "those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the United States or outside of the United States."

In my post, I said that I was waiting to see if this seemingly new stance on cruel, inhuman, and degrading interrogations in other countries signaled a new openness about the issue of secret C.I.A.-run prisons, or whether it was intended to silence European demands that the Bush administration confirm the existence of these secret facilities.

Believe it or not, I actually worried a bit about whether I was being too suspicious of U.S. motives when I questioned Rice's announcement.

I shouldn't have. An article posted on makes it clear that's exactly what's happened:

European officials said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice answered their concerns on U.S. detainee policy, which have dominated her trip to Europe this week.

Rice "cleared the air" on the issue, NATO Secretary General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer told a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels today.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said NATO allies "received assurances'' from Rice that the U.S. fully conforms to its international agreements and has "full respect for sovereignty'' of other nations. He welcomed the "U.S. adherence to international rules,'' particularly the UN Convention Against Torture.

"The U.S., they are our friends,'' Douste-Blazy said at a news conference focused on the detainee issue. "I repeat, they are our friends.''

Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot, who earlier this week, called Rice's comments about reported secret CIA flights and detention facilities in Europe "unsatisfactory,'' told reporters today he was convinced, after hearing Rice's explanation, that if the prisons existed, the U.S. did not violate international law there.

Looks like Condi has given European leaders the face-saving way they needed to give in to U.S. pressure and still claim that their concerns were addressed.

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