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Thursday, December 08, 2005

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KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 7 -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that the United States prohibits all its personnel from using cruel or inhuman techniques in prisoner interrogations, whether inside or outside U.S. borders. Previous public statements by the Bush administration have asserted that the ban did not apply abroad.

U.S. obligations under the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, extend as "a matter of policy" to "U.S. personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the United States or outside of the United States," Rice said here at a news conference with Ukraine's president, Viktor Yushchenko.

Dancing As Fast As She Can

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US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may have left Berlin, but her lightening visit on Tuesday is still splashed across the headlines on Wednesday. Nobody, of course, expected the issues raised by Rice's visit to disappear as soon as she did. The attention to the secret CIA flights allegedly carrying terror suspects via Europe to third countries for possible torture is widespread and of grave concern to a number of European governments and the European Union. The implication that Germany may have known about the so-called "extraordinary renditions" -- at least in the case of German citizen Khaled al-Masri, who was kidnapped by CIA agents in Macedonia in late 2003 and taken to Afghanistan where he claims to have been tortured -- has likewise kept the issue on the front pages.

Unfortunately, though, Rice's visit did little to satisfy those who would like to see a bit more transparency from the United States on exactly how European airports and airspace is used by the CIA. She reiterated that the US does not deliver terror suspects to third countries for torture -- but absent a definition of torture, nobody is particularly satisfied by the claim. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for her part, indicated she was satisfied with Rice's assurance that the US adheres to international laws and conventions with regards to torture. The major German dailies, however, are not so convinced.

You can run…but you can’t hide this

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UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. human rights chief warned on Wednesday that the global ban on torture is becoming a casualty of the "war on terror," singling out reported U.S. practices of sending terrorist suspects to other countries and holding prisoners in secret detent

can’t hide this either

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"Watching DeLay wade through a crowd of his own party members during a critical vote is an awesome thing, a nature show worthy of Sir David Attenborough. DeLay moves through the aisles like some kind of balding incubus, and as he passes, Republican members instinctively turn their backs on him, not wanting to be caught in the Gorgon's gaze (or, more to the point, be threatened with the loss of a chairmanship or reelection funding)."

Thompson, who committed suicide last February, invented the "gonzo" style in the 1970s by combining on-the-scene reporting, off-the-wall comedy and inventive invective. In the '80s, O'Rourke kept up the gonzo tradition from a conservative perspective. Both were gutsy guys: Thompson rode with the Hells Angels and O'Rourke traveled to various Third World war zones. Taibbi shows his guts by spending time with a group that's far more vicious and dangerous than bikers or guerrillas -- the United States Congress.

Taibbi has been watching Congress on and off for much of this year, filing dispatches filled with acid portraits of our elected representatives:

On Jean Schmidt, the Ohio Republican freshman who called Jack Murtha a coward: "a wrinkly, witchlike woman with a penchant for dressing like a harbor buoy."


Matt Taibbi



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