The announcement marks a shift from the stance of the Bush administration, which told the Committee Against Torture in 2006 that the provisions of the convention were geographically limited to America’s de jure territory.

A State Department official told a United Nations panel Wednesday that the United States “did not always live up to our own values” after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and she announced that the U.S. now acknowledges that a ban against torture applies in areas beyond its sovereign jurisdiction, including Guantanamo Bay and on U.S.-registered ships and aircraft.

“As President Obama has acknowledged, we crossed the line and we take responsibility for that,” acting legal adviser Mary McLeod told the Geneva-based U.N. Committee Against Torture, a body of legal experts that monitors implementation of the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

“The United States is proud of its record as a leader in respecting, promoting, and defending human rights and the rule of law, both at home and around the world,” she said. “But in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, we regrettably did not always live up to our own values, including those reflected in the convention.”

Continue reading →