Senator Cites Policy Conflict

On Detentions, Interrogations

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wrote that statements by Gonzales and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "seem in conflict" and have added to widespread confusion about U.S. detention and interrogation policies.

Gonzales, in response to written questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year, said the Justice Department concluded that the U.N. Convention Against Torture (CAT) does not prohibit "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment with respect to aliens overseas."

But earlier this week, during a tour of Europe in which she was dogged by questions about U.S. torture policy, Rice said: "As a matter of U.S. policy, the U.S. obligations under the CAT, which prohibits cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment -- those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are."

Yesterday, a Justice Department spokesman said Gonzales "is on record describing U.S. policy in precisely the same terms as Secretary Rice."

Critics of U.S. policy note that the two statements could be viewed as consistent if the administration presumes that its obligations under the torture convention do not include humane treatment of foreigners overseas. The Washington Post reported last month the CIA has been operating a secret prison system that has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and democracies in Eastern Europe.

For the Record

* New Jersey Gov.-elect Jon S. Corzine (D) yesterday appointed Rep. Robert Menendez (D) to serve out the remaining year of Corzine's Senate term, giving New Jersey its first minority senator. Menendez, 51, becomes the third Hispanic in the Senate, joining Democrat Ken Salazar (Colo.) and Republican Mel Martinez (Fla.).

* President Bush said Minnesota voters should send Rep. Mark Kennedy to the Senate because he opposes setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. "I think it's the wrong policy and so does Mark Kennedy," Bush told a few hundred donors at a $1,000-a-plate luncheon in Minneapolis. "This is a Senator Kennedy I can work with."

-- From staff writer Dan Eggen

and news services