Straw defends Rice denial of torturing terror suspects - Irna
UK Straw-CIA Secret Prisons Foreign Secretary Jack Straw Monday issued a robust defense of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denying the torturing of terrorist suspects.
"Secretary Rice's reply makes clear that US policy is to comply with the UN Convention Against Torture and, in this respect 'the United States government complies with its Constitution, its laws, and its treaty obligations'," Straw said.
"Acts of physical or mental torture are expressly prohibited. The United States government does not authorize or condone torture of detainees. Torture, and conspiracy to commit torture, are crimes under US law, wherever they may occur in the world," he insisted.
Earlier the US secretary of state defended the US treatment of terror suspects but refused to either confirm or deny the existence of CIA-run secret prisons in eastern Europe.
She argued that European countries should trust the US because information gathered by the CIA had 'prevented terrorist attacks in Europe ... and other countries'.
Her comments, made before a visit to Europe, follow an international outcry against the 'rendition' of terrorist suspects through international airports to countries where they can be integrated outside the protection of US law.
"All European countries fully share the determination expressed here by the US to protect our citizens from the threat of terrorism, clearly while operating within international law and our treaty obligations," Straw said in a statement obtained by IRNA.
"We, the EU and the wider international community must be clear on the terrorism threat we face. Modern terrorism means mass casualties as we saw on September 11 and July 7," he insisted, saying there was 'an unprecedented threat of suicide attacks'.
The foreign secretary went on to say that 'all of us must work together -- within the rule of law -- to use every tool at our disposal to deal with the threat of terrorism'.
Rice said that she 'cannot discuss information that would compromise the success of intelligence, law enforcement, and military operations' but stressed that the US would use 'every lawful weapon to defeat these terrorists'.
Several European governments, as well as the EU, have asked the US to confirm the existence of the prisons and to say whether or not hundreds of CIA flights have shuttled over the continent transporting prisoners.
The US secretary of state said rendition had been practiced for decades and was 'not unique to United States or to the current administration'.
She also added that the intelligence agencies of other nations had been working with the US to extract information from detainees, but that her government did not permit or tolerate torture under any circumstances.
"The US does not use the air space or airport of any country for the purpose of transporting a detainee when we believe he or she will be tortured," Rice said.
"The United States does not transport, and has not transported, detainees from one country to another for the purpose of interrogation using torture," she added.
The CIA is alleged to have made secret flights through Britain, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Denmark, the Irish Republic and other EU countries.
The British Government has insisted that there is nothing wrong with the CIA flying planes through British airspace, but admits that it does not know or ask whether there are any prisoners on the flights.