President Bush has acknowledged the existence of secret CIA prisons and said 14 key terrorist suspects have now been sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
These would be the same secret prisons Dana Priest wrote about, I take it.
The suspects, who include the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, have now been moved out of CIA custody and will face trial.
Mr Bush said the CIA’s interrogation programme had been “vital” in saving lives, but denied the use of torture.
He said all suspects will be afforded protection under the Geneva Convention.
But they weren’t afforded such protection before.
In a televised address alongside families of those killed in the 11 September 2001 attacks, Mr Bush said there were now no terrorist suspects under the CIA programme.
Mr Bush said he was making a limited disclosure of the CIA programme because interrogation of the men it held was now complete and because a US Supreme Court decision had stopped the use of military commissions for trials.
I wonder what brought this on?
Update: Thanks to merciless for the tip — at Crooks and Liars, Digby writes that this is a classic Rove maneuver to trap the Dems into appearing soft on terrorists. He quotes Mario Loyola at The Corner:
The President just pulled one of the best maneuvers of his entire presidency. By transferring most major Al Qaeda terrorists to Guantanamo, and simultaneously sending Congress a bill to rescue the Military Commissions from the Supreme Court’s ruling Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the President spectacularly ambushed the Democrats on terrain they fondly thought their own. Now Democrats who oppose (and who have vociferously opposed) the Military Commissions will in effect be opposing the prosecution of the terrorists who planned and launched the attacks of September 11 for war crimes.
The military tribunals that were operating at Guantanamo were not normal trials or even normal courts martial. President Bush declared that non-citizens whom he determined were terrorists would be “tried” by a military commission, which differs from a normal court in several ways. According to Wikipedia:
The accused are not allowed access to all the evidence against them. The presiding officers are authorized to consider secret evidence the accused have no opportunity to refute. The presiding officers are authorized to consider evidence extracted under torture. The presiding officers are authorized to consider evidence extracted through coercive interrogation techniques. The general in overall charge of the commissions is sitting in on them. He is authorized to shut down any commission, without warning, and without explanation. Secretary Rumsfeld has said that even an acquittal on all charges is no guarantee of a release; that he may choose to keep any detainee.
For all the articles written about the military tribunals I haven’t found one that explains exactly how they work or who has access to the proceedings or records of the proceedings. If anyone could help me out with that I’d appreciate it.
Very simply, the Hamdan decision said that the President doesn’t have the constitutional authority to establish military tribunals. However, the ruling doesn’t prevent Congress from passing legislation allowing tribunals at Guantanamo. The plan seems to be to use tribunal legislation as a wedge issue to hurt Democrats; if they hesitate to approve whatever nonsense the Republicans come up with, Republicans will claim the Dems are “soft on terrorism.” Dumping famously bad guys like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed into Gitmo ups the ante considerably.
However, Digby says the Dems can avoid the trap by advocating public trials Ã la Nuremberg. Considering all the World War II rhetoric coming out of the White House lately, this is a natural. And I have a feeling the White House really does not want public trials under Nuremberg rules —
Under the Nuremberg Charter, each defendant accused of a war crime was afforded the right to be represented by an attorney of his choice. The accused war criminals were presumed innocent by the tribunal and could not be convicted until their guilt was proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, the defendants were guaranteed the right to challenge incriminating evidence, cross-examine adverse witnesses, and introduce exculpatory evidence of their own.
I say if it was good enough for Hermann Goering, it’s good enough for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Anyway, back to Digby:
The Republicans are gleefully assuming that Bush has cornered the hapless Democrats once again with this clever move. I donâ€™t think so. Bush and Rumsfeld just repealed Godwinâ€™s law and that means this WWII analogy goes both ways. The Democrats should insist that if it was good enough for the Nazis to have public trials with normal rules of evidence, it is good enough for Al Qaeda.
Without public trials, there will never be any proof of guilt and the United States will create martyrs in a movement that reveres martyrdom â€” secret trials play directly into the hands of the terrorists. At the very least, these accused terrorists must be tried under rules such as those used at Nuremberg that cannot be construed as unjust by reasonable people. Without that, we will have given the terrorists another excellent recruiting tool and more reasons for the Islamic moderates we desperately need as allies to mistrust us. It seems to me that we have done quite enough of that.
So if the Republicans try to use opposition to tribunal legislation (I am assuming Dems will oppose it), all the Dems have to do is holler NUREMBERG! and HERMANN GOERING! That should do it.