Bush Admits, Defends Secret CIA Prisons
Suspected Terrorist Leaders Transferred To Guantanamo
-- --- -- WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush on
Wednesday said for the first time that some suspected terrorist
leaders have been held by the CIA outside the United States in
His comments marked the first time the administration has
acknowledged the existence of CIA prisons, which have been a
source of friction between Washington and some allies in Europe.
The administration has come under criticism for its treatment of
terrorism detainees. European Union lawmakers said the CIA was
conducting clandestine flights in Europe to take terror suspects
to countries where they could face torture.
"It has been necessary to move these individuals to an
environment where they can be held secretly, questioned by
experts and, when appropriate, prosecuted for terrorist acts,"
Bush said in a White House speech.
The news comes as Bush ordered the transfer of 14 suspected key
terrorist leaders from secret CIA custody to the U.S.
military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be prepared for
eventual trials, a senior administration official said
Those transfered include Khalid Sheik Mohammed, believed to be
the No. 3 al-Qaida leader before he was captured in Pakistan in
2003; Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged would-be Sept. 11, 2001,
hijacker; and Abu Zubaydah, who was believed to be a link
between Osama bin Laden and many al-Qaida cells before he was
also captured in Pakistan, in March 2002.
The United States began using the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in
eastern Cuba in January 2002 to hold people suspected of links
to al-Qaida or the Taliban. About 445 detainees remain there,
including 115 considered eligible for transfer or release.
Guantanamo has been a flashpoint for both U.S. and international
debate over the treatment of detainees without trial and the
source of allegations of torture, denied by U.S. officials. Even
U.S. allies have criticized the facility and process.
The camp came under worldwide condemnation after it opened more
than four years ago, when pictures showed prisoners kneeling,
shackled and being herded into wire cages. It intensified with
reports of heavy-handed interrogations, hunger strikes and
The Supreme Court this year said the president's plan to try
Guantanamo inmates in military tribunals violates U.S. and
The president has said he eventually wants to close Guantanamo,
but Bush spokesman Tony Snow said there will be no Guantanamo
closing announcement Wednesday. Instead, he said the president
wants "to bring justice to those who are detained there."
Aides said the president will call on Congress to approve new
rules for Pentagon tribunals for prisoners classified as
"One of the most important tasks is for Congress to recognize
that we need the tools necessary to win this war on terror,"
Bush said to members of his Cabinet in prepared remarks
Wednesday. "We'll continue to discuss with Congress ways to make
sure that this nation is capable of defending herself."
Some lawmakers, including top Republicans, have insisted that
the tribunals include more protections for detainees.
Military lawyers have urged a system patterned on the existing
system of military courts martial. But Attorney General Alberto
Gonzales has objected to rules that would give terrorism
suspects the right to remain silent -- or challenge hearsay
Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner said he has drafted a
proposal for trying the terrorism suspects, although it is
likely to take less of a hard line than the administration's.
Snow said those differences will be "worked out."
In both military and civilian courts, a defendant's right to see
evidence is viewed as indispensable to mounting an adequate
defense. Senate leaders were briefed on Bush's legislative plan
Tuesday night. It already has met resistance from lawmakers who
say it would set a dangerous precedent.
In related news, the Pentagon is about to ban some notorious
prisoner interrogation techniques, officials said Wednesday
ahead of the realease of a new Army Field Manual.
Other tactics deemed necessary for the war on terrorism have
been added to the manual, which will be released Wednesday.
One official said the new regulations specifically forbid
intimidating prisoners with dogs, putting hoods over inmates'
heads and simulating drowning with a procedure called "water
The manual's publication was delayed more than a year as critics
assailed the Defense Department's treatment of prisoners.
The new rules spell out appropriate conduct and procedures
throughout all the armed services. A Pentagon spokesman said
they reflect a "continued commitment to humane, professional and
effective detention operations."
The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights
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