President George W. Bush finally is acknowledging that the CIA runs secret prisons overseas and saying that tough interrogation forced terrorist leaders to reveal plots to attack the United States and its allies.I'm sure there was nothing political in the President's words or timing and that, like everything with the "war on terror," he has been above board and timely with all information released to the public.
Bush said Wednesday that 14 suspects — including the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and architects of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 — had been turned over to the Defense Department and moved to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for trial.
Bush said the CIA program "has helped us to take potential mass murderers off the streets before they were able to kill." Releasing information declassified just hours earlier, Bush said the capture of one terrorist months after the Sept. 11 attacks had led to the capture of another and then another, and had revealed planning for attacks using airplanes, car bombs and anthrax.
Nearing the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, Bush pressed Congress to pass administration-drafted legislation quickly to authorize use of military commissions for trials of terror suspects. Legislation is needed because the Supreme Court said in June the administration's plan for trying detainees in military tribunals violated U.S. and international law.
"These are dangerous men with unparalleled knowledge about terrorist networks and their plans for new attacks," Bush said, defending the CIA program he authorized after the Sept. 11 attacks. "The security of our nation and the lives of our citizens depend on our ability to learn what these terrorists know."
The president's speech, his third in a recent series about his campaign against terror, gave him an opportunity to shore up his administration's credentials on national security two months before congressional elections at a time when Americans are growing weary of the war in Iraq.
The prisons, while supposedly currently empty, are not being closed.
With transfer of the 14 men to Guantanamo, the CIA currently is holding no detainees, Bush said. A senior administration official said the CIA had detained fewer than 100 suspected terrorists in the history of the secret detention program.I have to say, however, I don't buy this. check out the picture with this post of a waterboard set-up by the Khmer Rouge. You remember the Khmer Rouge: the Killing Fields... right, those Khmer Rouge. Same ones who used waterboarding... right, not a torture tactic.
Still, Bush said that "having a CIA program for questioning terrorists will continue to be crucial to getting lifesaving information."
Some Democrats and human rights groups have said the CIA's secret prison system did not allow monitoring for abuses, and they hoped it would be shut down.
The president refused to disclose the location or details of the detainees' confinement, or the interrogation techniques that had been used.
"I cannot describe the specific methods used — I think you understand why," Bush said in the East Room where families of some of those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks gathered to hear his speech.
"If I did, it would help the terrorists learn how to resist questioning, and to keep information from us that we need to prevent new attacks on our country. But I can say the procedures were tough, and they were safe, and lawful and necessary."
Bush insisted the detainees were not tortured.
"I want to be absolutely clear with our people and the world: The United States does not torture," Bush said. "It's against our laws, and it's against our values. I have not authorized it, and I will not authorize it."
As I've noted before, perhaps the President, the VP, and the SOD would like to try a go with the waterboard. They're probably not to keen on trying it out. I need to go back and see where I read about it, but an American interviewer for the CIA noted that most detainees didn't last more than couple of minutes with the waterboarding.
The Washington Post's story noted this little bit on the techniques used:
Prisoners were subjected to harsh interrogation techniques including feigned drowning, extreme isolation, slapping, sleep deprivation, reduced food intake, and light and sound bombardment -- sometimes in combination with each other. Human rights groups and many international legal experts have said these techniques amount to torture. The administration insists, as Bush did again yesterday, that it has never authorized or used torture.Right. Just like this President told us the secret prisons didn't exist. Or the last President dallying with an intern. Or another President cicumventing laws on arms sales. Right. Got it.