Friday, September 08, 2006

so why DO we need secret prisons overseas if they are legitimate?

Writing about de facto President Bush's speech where he admitted we had secret prisons overseas, Eugene Robinson asked "If the secret prisons where U.S. agents interrogated "high-value" terrorism suspects with "alternative" techniques are so legitimate and legal, if they're so fully consistent with American values and traditions, then why are they overseas?" today in a column I wish I'd written. An excerpt (but read the whole thing):
Why not hold the suspects, say, in one of the many super-secure facilities in and around Washington? They would be much more accessible to the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon and any other agency that wanted a crack at them. And since al-Qaeda is already determined to attack the United States, why even risk creating potential problems for loyal overseas allies? Why not interrogate America's deadliest enemies on American soil?

Since the president didn't address this question, I'll try. The only reason that makes any sense to me is that the Decider wanted to put his secret prisons beyond the reach of U.S. courts. I think the president and his lawyers knew from the beginning that detaining suspects indefinitely and wringing information out of them with methods that international agreements define as torture -- "an alternative set of procedures" was the president's delicate euphemism -- wouldn't amuse even the most law-and-order federal judge.
Robinson also noted that keeping the prisons secret was to protect the host governments (Poland? Rumania?) from being embarrassed and from avoiding harsh denunciation and probably mass demonstrations from their own publics.

Robinson also pointed out what the President for some reason failed to note:
Those 14 most-wanted terrorists who were kept in the secret prisons? As far as we know, not a single one was captured in Iraq.


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