Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that the United States and its allies must track down terrorists who seek refuge in areas where local governments cannot take effective action. "In such places," she said, "terrorists have planned the killings of thousands of innocents - in New York City or Nairobi, in Bali or London, in Madrid or Beslan, in Casablanca or Istanbul."
The U.S. considers captured members of the al-Qaida terrorist group and its affiliates to be unlawful enemy combatants who, in accordance with the law of war, may be held to keep them from killing civilians. Ms. Rice said that many lives have been saved and attacks thwarted in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere as a result of intelligence gathered through interrogations of captured terrorists.
Another vital tool in the fight against terrorism is the practice of rendition. Rendition is the transport of terrorist suspects without using traditional judicial procedures from one country to another, where they can be questioned or tried. Ramzi Youssef masterminded the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City and plotted to blow up airliners over the Pacific Ocean. He was brought to the United States by a rendition and is now serving a life sentence in prison.
Secretary of State Rice said that the U.S. "has not transported anyone, and will not transport anyone, to a country where we believe he will be tortured." Where appropriate, she said, the U.S. "seeks assurances that transferred persons will not be tortured." She also said that the United States does not tolerate the torture of terrorists in its custody:
"The United States does not condone torture. It is against U.S. law to be involved in torture or conspiracy to commit torture, and it is also against U.S. international obligations. And the president has made it very clear that U.S. personnel will operate within U.S. law and within our international obligations."
Captured terrorist suspects, says U.S. Secretary of State Rice, must be treated in accordance with U.S. laws, which reflect the values of the American people.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.