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Rice Defends U.S. Practices on Prisoners

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is working to clarify what the U.S. does, and does not do, with its prisoners. In Europe Wednesday, she said U.N. rules against torture apply to Americans even if they are outside the United States.

"Those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the United States or outside of the United States," Rice said.

Rice spoke amid allegations about secret U.S. prisons -- and the grabbing of suspects abroad.

Her comments signal the Bush administration is moving closer to the position of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who is sponsoring legislation to outlaw cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners or detainees. Vice President Dick Cheney has lobbied against the McCain amendment, saying it might hamper the war on terrorism.

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Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.