Rice Disputes That America’s Image Has Been ‘Tarnished’ By Torture: ‘I’m Going To Have To Object’

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"Rice Disputes That America’s Image Has Been ‘Tarnished’ By Torture: ‘I’m Going To Have To Object’"

ricegrey.jpg Today in an interview with NPR, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice continued her Bush Legacy tour, sticking up for the administration’s national security policies. In particular, she downplayed the fact that President Bush hasn’t lived up to his stated desire to close Guantanamo Bay, saying that it’s “not easy” to do.

When reporter Michele Kelemen then asked Rice about another issue that has “tarnished the U.S. image” — the torture of detainees — Rice objected, insisting that it wasn’t a problem because the United States has never tortured:

Q: And Guantanamo wasn’t sort of the only issue that tarnished the U.S. image. There is also the treatment of terror suspects, waterboarding, other methods of torture or

RICE: Well, you know that I’m going to have to object, because the United States has always kept to its international obligations, which include international obligations on the Convention on Torture. The United States, the President, was determined after September 11th to do everything that was legal and within those obligations, international and domestic laws, to make sure that we prevented a follow-on attack.

Many top Bush administration officials have long been trying to insist that the United States has never engaged in torture. However, even setting aside the infamous Abu Ghraib incidents, Bush’s own CIA director Michael Hayden has confirmed that his agency had subjected at least three detainees to waterboarding. In 2004, the Red Cross documented “cruel, inhumane and degrading” treatment of detainees while inspecting Guantanamo Bay.

In other attempts at hagiography in recent weeks, Rice has claimed that removing Saddam Hussein was a “great strategic achievement” and the United States is still “very well-regarded” around the world.

Transcript and audio below:

Q: The State Department lawyers have been working in recent years to deal with prisoners in Guantanamo Bay — detainees — to get them home. Do you think the Obama Administration is going to have a hard time keeping its pledge to close down Guantanamo given what you know about this process?

RICE: Well, the President, President Bush, wanted to close down Guantanamo and said that he wanted to do so. It’s not easy, because there are some very dangerous people there. There are people who have said to prison officials, If I get out of here, I’m going to go kill Americans as quickly as I can. Well, those are not people that you want to let out on the street. We’ve had a very active program. We’ve reduced the Guantanamo population. We’ve returned a lot of people to their countries of origin. We’re trying to do that in a responsible way so that we don’t return people to places where there are questions about how they would be treated, which has been, for instance, the issue with the Uighurs and relocation of the Uighurs. So it’s not so easy, but I believe that it will be closed in time, and it’s just a matter of doing so in a safe and responsible way.

Q: And Guantanamo wasn’t sort of the only issue that tarnished the U.S. image. There is also the treatment of terror suspects, waterboarding, other methods of torture or –

RICE: Well, you know that I’m going to have to object, because the United States has always kept to its international obligations, which include international obligations on the Convention on Torture. The United States, the President, was determined after September 11th to do everything that was legal and within those obligations, international and domestic laws, to make sure that we prevented a follow-on attack.

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