Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rice admits mistakes in war on terror

The Hindu : International: Berlin: Condoleezza Rice began her tour of Europe on Tuesday with a rare public admission that the U.S. had made ``mistakes'' in the war on terror.

Speaking after a meeting with Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, Ms. Rice again insisted that the U.S. did not ``condone'' torture. ``It is against U.S. law,'' she said.

But she appeared to concede for the first time that the Bush administration's uncompromising policy of ``rendition'' against terrorist suspects had sometimes gone wrong.

``We recognise that any policy will sometimes result in errors,'' said U.S. Secretary of State. She added: ``When this happens we will do everything we can to rectify it.''

Her comments in Berlin came at the start of her five-day tour, which takes in Romania, Ukraine and Brussels.

Wave of criticism

The visit has been accompanied by a wave of criticism from across Europe over the CIA's practice of transferring terrorist suspects to third countries for interrogation.

There were also new and embarrassing revelations on Tuesday that the CIA had closed down its secret jails in eastern Europe after their existence was revealed early last month by the Washington Post. According to ABC, citing CIA officials, the prisons believed to be in Poland and Romania were shut last month.

The 11 Al-Qaeda suspects held there were flown to North Africa before Dr. Rice's trip, the network said.

Dr. Rice's unusual concession to U.S. critics appears to be an attempt to deflect outrage in Germany over the case of Khalid Masri — a German national mistakenly kidnapped by the CIA in December 2003.

Standing next to Dr. Rice, Ms. Merkel on Tuesday said the U.S. had ``accepted'' it had ``erroneously taken'' Mr. Masri, who spent five months in a freezing Afghan jail after the CIA grabbed him in Macedonia.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday announced that it was suing the CIA and its Director at the time George Tenet over h is case. Mr. Masri had been due to address a press conference — but was unable to attend after U.S. officials refused him permission to enter the country. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

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