The Obama administration will tell a U.N. anti-torture committee today that the U.S. has reversed a Bush administration rule that had said the ban on torture did not extend beyond America's borders.
A U.S. delegation will appear in Geneva today before the Committee Against Torture, the U.N. body that monitors Geneva Conventions anti-torture compliance. The American delegation will state that the U.S. ban on torture now does apply to U.S. facilities overseas, at places like Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The U.S. hasn’t come before the committee since Obama took office. The Bush administration had maintained the Conventions don’t apply outside the U.S., the White House confirms to ABC News.
“In contrast to positions previously taken by the U.S. government, the delegation will affirm that U.S. obligations under Article 16, which prohibits cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, do not apply exclusively inside the territorial United States," White House National Security Council Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a written statement today.
The U.S. delegation will also tell the committee America does not believe a time of war means the Geneva Conventions do not apply, although more specific laws or war can take precedence, Meehan said.
Since Bush's presidency, the U.S. has come under fire from international organizations like Amnesty International and the Red Cross for its treatment of prisoners held as suspected terrorists allied with al Qaeda and the Taliban, who were subjected to "enhanced interrogation" tactics like waterboarding at locations outside U.S. borders, like the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo and the U.S. air base at Bagram, Iraq.