It is said our intelligence was faulty. But what intelligence evidence could have convinced a responsible president that Saddam had no WMDs? Fresh facts. The new narrative that emerged last week was provided by Bush in his Sept. 6 speech in which he urged the authorization of military tribunals to try suspected terrorists. In vivid detail, he told stories we had not heard before: of how under CIA interrogation Abu Zubaydah fingered Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, and led us to apprehend terrorists planning more attacks; how KSM identified al-Qaida operatives in Southeast Asia and a terrorist who was plotting anthrax attacks in the United States; how other terrorists enabled us to foil attacks on the U.S. consulate in Karachi and a U.S. Marine base in Djibouti.
The debate on what to do about captured terrorists has taken place largely in the courts and has been conducted by lawyers whose default assumption seems to be that unlawful combatants should be entitled to all the protections given criminal defendants in domestic courts.
Arguments are made that defendants, not just their lawyers, should have access to secret evidence and that they should get Geneva Convention protections though they are classed as unlawful combatants under those conventions. Bush's narrative gives us reason to think about the consequences of indulging such abstract concerns. Consequences like what we saw on Sept. 11.
The collapse of the Wilson-Plame narrative leaves troubling questions about the Fitzgerald investigation -- and the media that cheered it on. The emerging narrative of foiled terrorist plots puts the issue squarely before Congress: whether it should prohibit practices that have successfully protected us against terrorist attacks.