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"international agreements are not interpreted any differently in the United States than they are in Europe"

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=fundLaunches&storyID=2005-12-08T154822Z_01_HO736212_RTRUKOC_0_US-SECURITY-RICE.xml Rice reassures NATO
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 8, 2005

      Rice reassures NATO allies on CIA prisons
      Thu Dec 8, 2005 10:48 AM ET163

      By Mark John and Saul Hudson

      BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European allies of the United
      States said on Thursday they were satisfied with new
      assurances by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that
      U.S. treatment of detainees was within international

      The issue has dogged her European tour, with reports
      in the media the CIA has run secret prisons in east
      Europe and covertly transported detainees in its war
      against terrorism. Rights groups say incommunicado
      detention often leads to torture.

      Rice said the United States had done nothing unlawful
      but stressed that governments could not afford to be
      more open on issues such as detention and movement of
      suspects, saying intelligence matters could not be
      made public.

      "Intelligence and the gathering of intelligence and
      the use of intelligence is something that ... is very
      often misunderstood, because intelligence by its very
      nature is done in a closed environment," she told a
      news conference.

      Rice had repeated her defense of U.S. practices at a
      dinner late on Wednesday for NATO and EU foreign
      ministers on the eve of a one-day NATO meeting.
      Several emerged satisfied after what a source
      described as a frank but respectful exchange.

      "We have received quite clear answers concerning
      airspace and overflights, and that there will be no
      cruel or inhuman treatment inside or outside the
      United States," Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot
      said. "All the fields have been covered."

      "I think NATO and EU ministers were able to raise
      their concerns that we should not diverge from one
      another on the interpretation of international law,"
      German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told

      "Secretary Rice promised that international agreements
      are not interpreted any differently in the United
      States than they are in Europe. That, at least, is a
      good statement," he said.


      A senior U.S. State Department officials said
      ministers had avoided pressing Rice on specific
      questions about alleged U.S. practices, such as
      running secret prisons in Europe, and had instead
      sought assurances about the treatment of detainees.

      Even then, he said, European governments had not asked
      about specific tactics, such as whether the United
      States uses waterboarding, meant to make a detainee
      feel he is drowning.

      "Rather than focus on specifics, the conversation is
      more about the underpinning concern of how detainees
      are treated," he said.

      NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the
      ministers' discussion on Wednesday had improved the

      "It cleared the air," he told a news conference,
      adding that Rice had been "on good form" during the

      European allies have shown little appetite for a
      head-on confrontation with Rice over allegations which
      could explode in their faces if any complicity emerged
      on their part.

      Rice sought to deflect criticism of U.S. policy before
      leaving for Europe on Monday, saying that European
      intelligence agencies had helped Washington extract
      information from suspects and urging allies to see "we
      are all in this together".

      In Kiev on Wednesday she announced that the United
      States had explicitly banned its interrogators around
      the world from treating detainees inhumanely, a policy
      shift made several weeks ago but not spelled out by a
      top official until Wednesday.

      The New York-based campaign group Human Rights Watch
      said in a statement the policy shift was inadequate
      because she failed to address allegations the CIA runs
      secret prisons or ruled out certain interrogation
      techniques, such as waterboarding.

      (Additional reporting by Sebastian Alison)
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