Feinstein to Gonzales: What's Torture?
|U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales asking him to clarify what is, and is not, torture, according to his interpretation of U.S. and international laws.|
During your confirmation hearings you were asked a number of questions regarding this issue. Specifically, Senator Durbin asked you “whether or not it is legally permissible for U.S. personnel to engage in cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment that does not rise to the level of torture?”
You did not provide a clear response to that question, and I asked you to explain further, which you did as part of your responses to questions for the record. In that response you wrote: “… the Department of Justice has concluded that under Article 16 there is no legal prohibition under the CAT on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment with respect to aliens overseas.”
Earlier this week Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, in response to similar questions, said: “As a matter of U.S. policy, the U.S. obligations under the CAT, which prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment --- those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are.”
These statements, on their face, seem in conflict. Do the obligations under the CAT prohibit cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment if that treatment takes place overseas, as described by Secretary Rice? Or is there in fact “no legal prohibition under the CAT” with respect to aliens overseas, as you stated in your communication?