Monday, May 4, 2009

New Prison May Have to Be Built, Gates Says

New Prison May Have To Be Built, Gates Says

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Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said yesterday that the Pentagon may have to build a new facility to house detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, to hedge against political opposition around the country to the incarceration of the inmates in existing federal or military facilities in the United States.

"I fully expect to have 535 pieces of legislation before this is over saying, 'Not in my district, not in my state,' " Gates said, referring to the number of senators and representatives in Congress. He said the Pentagon wants to have $50 million at hand in case it has to build a prison on short notice.

In January, President Obama ordered the closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year. Gates said the facilities, which cost tens of millions of dollars to construct, are likely to be "mothballed."

Gates also said the administration, which is reviewing the cases of each of the 241 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, has begun to grapple with how to handle those prisoners deemed too dangerous to release but who cannot be put on trial.

"The question is: What do we do with the 50 to 100 -- probably in that ballpark -- who we cannot release and cannot try?" Gates said at a Senate hearing. That raises the prospect of detention without a trial or of military tribunals to use evidence that would not be admitted in federal court or military courts-martial. Such evidence might include raw intelligence that would not meet rules of evidence standards or is tainted because it was obtained from coercive interrogations.

Gates said military commissions, or a modified version of such trials, "are very much still on the table."

-- Peter Finn

INTERROGATIONS

Rice Defends Use of Enhanced Techniques

While former vice president Richard B. Cheney has publicly defended the Bush administration's use of enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, other senior decision-makers of that administration have remained silent. But former secretary of state and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice -- who declined to comment last week on the release of Justice Department memos authorizing the practices -- was caught on videotape this week giving a finger-wagging defense to a persistent Stanford University student.

Asked whether waterboarding is torture, Rice replied emphatically: "We were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so, by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture."

"In terms of the enhanced interrogation and so forth, anything that was legal and was going to make this country safer, the president wanted to do," Rice said. "Nothing that was illegal. And nothing that was going to make the country less safe."

She also urged the student to remember the context of the decision-making in 2002, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "Unless you were there, in a position of responsibility after September 11th, you cannot possibly imagine the dilemmas that you faced in trying to protect Americans," she said, adding that "you were determined to do anything that you could that was legal to prevent that from happening again."

Rice became riled when the student noted that the United States did not torture during World War II. "With all due respect, Nazi Germany never attacked the homeland of the United States," Rice replied.

Japan, Germany's ally, however, attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, killing 2,350 military personnel and civilians.

The student persisted and said the United States tortured detainees in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. "No, no, dear, you're wrong," Rice said. "You're wrong. We did not torture anyone. And Guantanamo Bay, by the way, was considered a model quote 'medium-security prison' by representatives of the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe who went there to see it. Did you know that?"

Rice insisted she did not authorize the CIA to use the interrogation techniques, as was widely reported last week: "I didn't authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department's clearance. That's what I did."

-- Glenn Kessler

TERRORIST ATTACKS

Deaths Worldwide Decreased in 2008

The number of people who died worldwide in terrorist attacks dropped by 30 percent last year as violence in Iraq eased, according to a U.S. government report. But terrorist attacks in Pakistan more than doubled.

The State Department's annual global terrorism report noted deteriorating security situations in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. In Iraq, it said, 5,016 civilians died in terrorist attacks in 2008, less than half the number the previous year but an indicator of continued instability as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw.

The report said al-Qaeda and its associates posed the greatest terrorist threat to the United States, although "they continued to lose ground."

Al-Qaeda has rebuilt some of the capability it had before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by moving across Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, the report said.

The number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan surged to 1,839 last year as militants from the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other groups defied government efforts to gain control over the border area, the report said. The attacks killed 2,300.

She also urged the student to remember the context of the decision-making in 2002, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "Unless you were there, in a position of responsibility after September 11th, you cannot possibly imagine the dilemmas that you faced in trying to protect Americans," she said, adding that "you were determined to do anything that you could that was legal to prevent that from happening again."

Rice became riled when the student noted that the United States did not torture during World War II. "With all due respect, Nazi Germany never attacked the homeland of the United States," Rice replied.

Japan, Germany's ally, however, attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, killing 2,350 military personnel and civilians.

The student persisted and said the United States tortured detainees in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. "No, no, dear, you're wrong," Rice said. "You're wrong. We did not torture anyone. And Guantanamo Bay, by the way, was considered a model quote 'medium-security prison' by representatives of the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe who went there to see it. Did you know that?"

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Rice insisted she did not authorize the CIA to use the interrogation techniques, as was widely reported last week: "I didn't authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department's clearance. That's what I did."

-- Glenn Kessler

TERRORIST ATTACKS

Deaths Worldwide Decreased in 2008

The number of people who died worldwide in terrorist attacks dropped by 30 percent last year as violence in Iraq eased, according to a U.S. government report. But terrorist attacks in Pakistan more than doubled.

The State Department's annual global terrorism report noted deteriorating security situations in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. In Iraq, it said, 5,016 civilians died in terrorist attacks in 2008, less than half the number the previous year but an indicator of continued instability as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw.

The report said al-Qaeda and its associates posed the greatest terrorist threat to the United States, although "they continued to lose ground."

Al-Qaeda has rebuilt some of the capability it had before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by moving across Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, the report said.

The number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan surged to 1,839 last year as militants from the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other groups defied government efforts to gain control over the border area, the report said. The attacks killed 2,300.

-- Mary Beth Sheridan

1 comment:

Terry Conspiracy said...

The Rice story was interesting.

Her "I didn't authorize anything" statement is priceless. Not since Nuremberg has such a key political player said "I was just the messenger" to downplay their role in history so quickly.

As the torture story evolves into the 9/11 story (how could it not), we will hear endless variations of this very phrase.

I will try to remember that the Rice Lady said it first.