Quote: "It is also U.S. policy that authorized interrogation will be consistent with U.S. obligations under the Convention Against Torture, which prohibit cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment." Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice.
Figure of Speech: Equivocation (e quiv o CAY shon), the speech mask.
Rice is a terrific diplomat, but her European trip put her in a bind. How could she deny the American torture policy even while Bush was threatening to veto a bill that would prevent torture?
The answer: equivocate. Say what your audience wants to hear, but in language that disguises your true intentions. The White House interpreted its "obligations" to apply only on American soil. Torture was okay everywhere else. So Rice’s words meant the opposite of how they sounded.
But equivocation didn't work this time. Today, under intense pressure from Europeans and Congress, the administration backed down and agreed to follow the international Convention Against Torture -- internationally.
Snappy Answer: "Now define 'cruel,' 'inhumane' and 'degrading.'"