Phrase: "As a matter of U.S. policy,” said Secretary of State Rice, “the United States' obligations under the CAT (Convention against Torture), which prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment -- those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the United States or outside of the United States."
Meaning: Banning torture is tricky business. When the U.S. Senate ratified the Convention against Torture, it defined “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” as anything that violates by the U.S. Constitution’s restriction against treatment of prisoners that “shocks the conscience." Now, here’s the trick: Do “those obligations” apply to U.S. treatment of foreigners abroad? Not according to the Justice Department’s legal opinion. And bonus weasel: The anti-torture treaty also says that countries are only responsible for the actions that occur in "any territory under its jurisdiction." Those secret CIA prisons? They aren't in "territory under U.S. jurisdiction," so, in the administration's opinion, the U.S. isn't responsible. QED!
Oh and no, Rice’s spin isn’t new. AG Alberto Gonzales said the same thing a year ago. And let’s revisit what then-deputy AG nominee Tim Flaningan said in his confirmation hearings over the summer: “The United States has committed itself to complying with all of its obligations under the Convention [Against Torture]." See, it’s easy to comply with “those obligations.” Just define them away!