Kerry Cites CIA Interrogations, Ferguson: ‘Democracy is a Work in Progress’ in U.S. | CNS News - Liar Liar!
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Kerry Cites CIA Interrogations, Ferguson: ‘Democracy is a Work in Progress’ in U.S. | CNS News

(CNSNews.com) – Democracy in the United States is “a work in progress,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech Wednesday, citing the Senate committee report on CIA interrogation programs and the controversy over deaths of African Americans at the hands of police in Ferguson, Mo. and New York City.

“Democracy is not a final destination; it is an endless journey,” he said, “And we see that right here at home.”

“I think America in these recent days has seen this and we own up to it. Even yesterday with the report that came out from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence – we hold ourselves accountable to an ugly, horrible period, and we should be proud of our ability to do that,” Kerry said.

“We know well here at home, as I mentioned a moment ago, that democracy is a work in progress. We know that the eyes of the world are on us, and as President Obama made clear in his address to the U.N. General Assembly [last September], we welcome the scrutiny.

“From the streets of New York City to Ferguson, Missouri, we are learning in painful, searing ways that justice and equality are not things that you can just parse out to some and deny to others,” he said.

“And nor can you take for granted that everybody has what you think they have, but what you say is part of your fabric.”

Kerry said as the release of the report on CIA interrogation made clear, “one of America’s strengths is our democratic system’s ability to recognize and wrestle with our own history, acknowledge mistakes, and correct course.”

The speech at the State Department, marking the 20th anniversary of the Summit of the Americas, was one of the first occasions since Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Dianne Feinstein released the report on which Kerry has had to address the issue even as he speaks on the importance of democratic values elsewhere.

(The speech included criticism of countries in the hemisphere – he did not name them, but was likely referring to Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and others – where government is “autocratic, corrupt, or ineffectual,” where leaders discard term limits to hang on to power, and muzzle journalists civil society activists.)

Kerry’s spokeswoman fielded numerous questions at a daily briefing Wednesday on how the U.S. will be able to comment in future on abuses in other countries if no-one is prosecuted over allegations contained in the Feinstein report.

If the Justice Department does not intend to prosecute anyone, Jen Psaki was asked, “how it is going to be when you call for accountability for rights abuses in other countries, how you’re going to be able to do that without being essentially laughed out of the room?”

“We would put our record against any record around the world, and we think it’s very rare and unique for a country to decide to put out a report such as this, a release of a report that we supported,” she replied. “It points to the fact that we believe these techniques were contrary to our values as a nation, were overall detrimental.”

“Does the State Department have any concerns that its arguments in human rights forums around the world – particularly today, Human Rights Day – are compromised at all by the fact that there isn’t going to be any accountability here?” a reporter asked.

Psaki replied that in its conversations with other countries, the administration “will continue to convey that we ended this practice. It was one of the first steps the president made. We’re willing to be open and transparent about our mistakes and make changes, and that’s exactly what we did here.”

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