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Bush admits to secret CIA prisons


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Bush admits to secret CIA prisons

Washington - United States 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.

Bush said Wednesday that 14 suspects - including the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks and architects of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and the US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 - had been turned over to the Defence Department and moved to the US detention centre 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."

Bush insisted the detainees were not tortured

Releasing information declassified just hours earlier, Bush said the capture of one terrorist months after the September 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 September 11, Bush pressed Congress to pass administration-drafted legislation quickly to authorise 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 US and international law.

"These are dangerous men with unparallelled knowledge about terrorist networks and their plans for new attacks," Bush said, defending the CIA program he authorised after the September 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.

Democrats, hoping to make the elections a referendum on Bush's policies in Iraq and the war on terror, urged anew that Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld be made to step down. The effort went nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate.

'These defendants are not common criminals'

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 programme.

Still, Bush said that "having a CIA programme 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 September 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 authorised it, and I will not authorise it."

Bush said the information from terrorists in CIA custody has played a role in the capture or questioning of nearly every senior al-Qaeda member or associate detained by the United States and its allies since the program began.

He said they include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused September 11 mastermind, as well as Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged would-be 9/11 hijacker, and Abu Zubaydah, who was believed to have been a link between al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and many al-Qaeda cells.

"Were it not for this programme, our intelligence community believes that al-Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland," Bush said.

He said interrogators have succeeded in getting information that has helped make photo identifications, pinpoint terrorist hiding places, provide ways to make sense of documents, identify voice recordings and understand the meaning of terrorist communications, al-Qaeda's travel routes and hiding places,

The administration had refused until now to acknowledge the existence of CIA prisons. Bush said he was going public because the United States has largely completed questioning the suspects, and also because the CIA programme had been jeopardised by the Supreme Court ruling.

Bush also laid out his proposal for how trials for detainees should be conducted, a plan he says ensures fairness.

His proposed legislation was praised by some Senate leaders, but other lawmakers said it would curtail certain rights of terror suspects.

"It's important to remember these defendants are not common criminals," said Senator Mitch McConnell. "Rather, many are terrorists, sworn enemies of the United States who would gladly use any information to harm us, and any opportunity to strike us again."

However, Republican Ike Skelton of Missouri, senior Democrat on the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, said Congress was being pushed to make a hasty decision on the plan for special military trials. Skelton questioned whether Bush's approach would meet the requirements laid out by the Supreme Court.

The proposal probably will prompt a showdown on the Senate floor among Republicans. GOP moderates John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham have drafted a rival proposal.

Their version would guarantee certain legal rights to defendants common in military and civilian courts that Bush's proposal omits, including a defendant's access to all evidence used against him.Graham, a former military lawyer, said withholding evidence from an alleged war criminal would set a dangerous precedent that other nations could follow. "Would I be comfortable with (an American servicemember) going to jail with evidence they never saw? No," Graham said.

Also on Wednesday, the Pentagon put out a new Army field manual that spells out appropriate conduct on issues including prisoner interrogation. The manual applies to all the armed services, but not the CIA.

It bans torture and degrading treatment of prisoners, for the first time specifically mentioning forced nakedness, hooding and other procedures that have become infamous during the current operations. - Sapa-AP.

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"'When I woke up I didn't know where I was. I'd lost consciousness at the side of the container, but when I woke up I was in the middle - lying on top of dead bodies, breathing the stench of their blood and urine.

'They'd herded maybe 300 of us into each container, the type you get on ordinary lorries, packed in so tightly our knees were against our chests, and almost immediately we started to suffocate. We lived because someone made holes with a machine gun, though they were shooting low and still more died from the bullets. When we got out, about 20 in each container were still alive.' "

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they're not, what's scary is that he's willing to admit things he wouldn't admit before.

I believe Arsie's point was that governments, warlords, nobles, etc. have been doing this for a very, very long time. However, that truth is not an excuse. With the technology we have (read: internet) and the massive heap of knowledge accumulated through or existence I believe it is about time we got over war.

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they're not, what's scary is that he's willing to admit things he wouldn't admit before.

Well, what's a country of lazy cynical minded people going to do to him? Not vote for him next term?

I believe Arsie's point was that governments, warlords, nobles, etc. have been doing this for a very, very long time. However, that truth is not an excuse. With the technology we have (read: internet) and the massive heap of knowledge accumulated through or existence I believe it is about time we got over war.

Pretty much, the only difference with this situation is that it's much harder to hide things like this in this era.

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I believe Arsie's point was that governments, warlords, nobles, etc. have been doing this for a very, very long time. However, that truth is not an excuse. With the technology we have (read: internet) and the massive heap of knowledge accumulated through or existence I believe it is about time we got over war.

How should we manage to "get over" war?

with all the money he and his whole family has + all the political friends in high places, I foresee nothing bad happening to him ever.

Anthrax? Plane crashed into building? Assasination attempt (they might have learned something since they failed to kill daddy)

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How should we manage to "get over" war?

by realizing that we're all human beings...

A good metaphor would be that we're like branches on a tree. The branches on a tree are all able to co-exist with each other and they don't tangle up, so the tree is able to live and grow. If the branches were to bicker via tangling up and getting caught in each other, the tree would slowly die and eventually cease to exist.

Anthrax? Plane crashed into building? Assasination attempt (they might have learned something since they failed to kill daddy)

Oh no, he's good friends with the Saudis, they wouldn't do that, not to him.

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You have to look at it this way, republican politicians aren't thinking in terms of "how does this vote/decision better humanity?", they're thinking in terms of "how can this vote/decision stuff more money into my pockets?" In this frame of mind, money will win over humanity any day of the week.

well both parties do that, not just the republicans. money already does rule the world. it won't make much difference unless people go back to the simple things.

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