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John Kerry Responds to Bush Speech on the Creation of Military Commissions to Try Suspected Terrorists

by Pamela Leavey

It was long overdue, but Bush acknowledged today for the first time that the CIA does run “secret prisons overseas.” In his third speech in recent days on the “war on terror” Bush said, “tough interrogation forced terrorist leaders to reveal plots to attack the United States and its allies.”

John Kerry responded to Bush’s speech today saying, “Today the Administration finally recognized that the protections of the Geneva Convention should be applied to prisoners in order to restore our moral authority and best protect American troops.”

“Today’s shift in policy follows the sad legacy of five years during which this Administration abused our Constitution, violated our laws, and most importantly failed to make America safe. It’s the worst of all worlds. Their broken policies made America more vulnerable because they’ve squandered our moral authority, endangered American troops by lobbying for torture, failed to prosecute a single detainee at Guantanamo Bay, and actually released detainees who presented a real threat. They engage in phony debates in order to avoid accountability for their failure. Only Donald Rumsfeld could call this a success.

“No matter how many times the President redelivers the same political speech, we need action and not words. The Administration needs to focus less on a strategy to win a mid term election and more on a strategy that will win the war on terror. September 11th brought home the costs of a dysfunctional intelligence system marred by bureaucratic infighting, inadequate resources, and faulty analysis. But we’ve done absolutely nothing to correct it. The 9/11 commission just recently gave our government a failing grade on implementing intelligence reforms and our ability to intercept terrorist communications remains in legal limbo. The Administration needs a new policy, not a new stump speech.”

The WaPo reports that “In defending the CIA detention program, Bush explicitly confirmed its existence publicly for the first time since the covert prison system was revealed by The Washington Post in November 2005.”

Bush used his speech today to announce that his is “sending Congress legislation to specifically authorize the creation of military commissions to try terrorists for war crimes.” Whether Bush and the GOP follow through with his plan is debatable. The timing, as noted by John Kerry in his response to Bush’s speech, is all too convenient as the GOP is struggling to regain their footing with key supporters who are waking up to the fact that the Bush administration has failed miserably in the “war on terror.”

In an earlier post, I noted that some in the Pentagon have called for a “Terror War Name Change.” Sounding a lot like John Kerry, Army Col. Gary Cheek, the chief of strategic planning for the Pentagon told UPI Pentagon correspondent Pamela Hess, that “What is needed, is to recast terrorists as the criminals they are.”

11 Responses to “John Kerry Responds to Bush Speech on the Creation of Military Commissions to Try Suspected Terrorists”

  1. Pamela,

    As usual, Kerry sets the right tone. And I love the comment by Colonel Cheek…these terrorists are *criminals*, as Kerry and I and others have been saying for years now. The only way to win the “war on terror” is to call them what they are…*criminals*.

    Let the conservative gnashing of teeth begin.

  2. Hey Todd (I’m back)

    Yeah, it’s a darn shame that program was so useless.

    It’s not like it was bringing terrorists to justice or anything… oh… wait

    The CIA Program Has Been, And Remains, One Of The Most Vital Tools In Our War Against The Terrorists. Questioning of detainees in the program has given us information that has saved innocent lives by helping us to stop new attacks in America and abroad.

    Information From Detainees Questioned In This Program Has Helped Unravel Plots And Terrorist Cells

    According To Our Intelligence Community, The Program Has Produced Information That Has Saved Lives. Some Examples Include The Following:

    * Abu Zubaydah Told Us That Al Qaida Operatives Were Planning To Launch An Attack Inside The United States. Based on information he provided, the operatives were detained, one while traveling to the U.S. Zubaydah also disclosed that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (“KSM”) was the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks.

    * Information Provided By Zubaydah Also Helped Lead To The Capture Of Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, One Of KSM’s Accomplices In 9/11. Together, these two terrorists provided information that helped in the planning and execution of the operation that captured KSM.

    * KSM Provided Information That Led Us To The Capture Of A Terrorist Operative Named Zubair, Who Provided Information That Helped Lead To The Capture Of Hambali – The Leader Of Al Qaida’s Southeast Asian Affiliate Known As JI (Jamal Islamia). After Hambali’s arrest, KSM was questioned again, and he identified Hambali’s brother as the leader of a JI cell, and Hambali’s conduit for communications with al Qaida. Hambali’s brother was soon captured, and he in turn led us to a cell of 17 Southeast Asian JI operatives. When confronted with the news that his terror cell had been broken up, Hambali admitted that the operatives were being groomed at KSM’s request for attacks inside the U.S., possibly using airplanes.

    * KSM Also Told Us Many Details Of Other Plots To Kill Innocent Americans And Provided Vital Information On Al Qaida’s Efforts To Obtain Biological Weapons For Terrorist Attacks. He described the design of planned attacks on buildings inside the U.S. and how operatives were directed to carry them out. He told us the operatives had been instructed to ensure the explosions went off at a point that was high enough to prevent the people trapped above from escaping out of the windows.

    Suspected Terrorists In The CIA Program Have Provided Everything From Initial Leads To Photo Identifications To Precise Locations Of Where Terrorists Were Hiding – Helping Us Take Potential Mass Murderers Off The Streets Before They Were Able To Kill Or Kill Again. Detainees in this program have helped us identify individuals that al Qaida deemed suitable for Western operations, including terrorists sent to case targets inside the U.S. Detainees in this program have identified al Qaida travel routes and safe havens, and explained how al Qaida’s senior leadership communicates with its operatives in Iraq. They have identified voices in recordings of intercepted calls and helped us understand the meaning of potentially critical terrorist communications.

  3. RightSideRedux

    Interesting little note about that new Army manual Dubya was hyping today…

    “The manual applies to all the armed services, but not the CIA.”


    It’s my understanding that the rendering of prisoners was done by the CIA. I get that Bush wasn’t totally forthright today. Too bad you have your blinders on.

  4. So:

    Pam’s World: I have blinders on because military rules of interrogation do not apply to a civilian force (the CIA) and it’s possible that the CIA will go on using their old interrogation techniques that are just bad, bad, BAD!

    RSR’s World: Pam continues on her own conversation ignoring the very specific evidence that I cited to demonstrate that the CIA interrogation efforts (that the NY Times revealed) actually kept us safer.

  5. RSR writes: “Pam continues on her own conversation ignoring the very specific evidence that I cited to demonstrate that the CIA interrogation efforts (that the NY Times revealed) actually kept us safer.”

    LOL. None of the “facts” you list above can be independently verified, nor can the claim of “classified intelligence” be used to bolster your “trust us” claim.

    The so-called “urgency” behind Bush’s admitting to this illegal program has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with November 7th.

  6. RightSideRedux

    I hear waterboarding is all the rage…

  7. RSR,

    The idea is not that tracking down the appropriate suspects, taking them into LEGAL custody and properly interrogating them is not going to produce good results.

    It is that a lot of inappropriate subjects got into the mix, since none were allowed the basic legal rights, the great majority of innocents were treated unjustly – as well as being improperly interrogated. There is ample evidence that torture produces more lies than worthwhile information.

    As far as getting useful information from arrested terrorists:
    What was the point – other than political- of Bush revealing that the Pakistani’s had a high member of al-Qaeda who was cooperating with them by contacting other members over the web? It blew a phenomenal potential into NOTHING.

    Then there was the outing of Plame AND the business cover for the intell operation in IRAN on their nuclear programs. So now we are without 3 years of intel that might have indicated what Bush wants to remain hidden:

    We have enough time to negotiate.

  8. Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask, does anyone know what happened to our old right-wing buddy, Darth?

    I wonder if his National Guard unit got called up for Iraq? If so, I guess he’s in his glory in his crusade to kill all the Muslims for Jesus…

  9. Dave from Princeton

    I’ve been wondering about that too. Darth was quite amusing and always good for a laugh.

  10. He was a definite wing-nut but he also definitely had a good sense of humor and was always very civil and friendly (which is more than I can say for myself) 😉 He also held those in the GOP to account when he felt appropriate. Of course, often not for the same reasons we would 😉

  11. Darth was so far out there, that even the freepers booted him. Talk about dishing out some wingnuttery!