Bush is speaking right now. You can watch live at the Washington Post. Their feed is actually a little ahead of the TV feed, so it's like you know the future.
Some knew the future this morning, which was that President Bush was going to announce 'significant news' in his speech today. It turns out the news is that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other high-value terror detainees will be transferred to the Department of Defense from CIA prisons and given Geneva Convention Rights.
ABC News has learned that President Bush will announce that high-value detainees now being held at secret CIA prisons will be transferred to the Department of Defense and granted protections under the 1949 Geneva Conventions. It will be the first time the Administration publicly acknowledges the existence of the prisons.
A source familiar with the president's announcement says it will apply to all prisoners now being held by the CIA, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept.11 attacks, and senior al Qaeda leader Ramzi Binalshibh.
The source says there are "about a dozen" prisoners now being held by the CIA.
Actually, this is pretty shrewd. Superficially, Bush gets to come clean about the CIA prisons and act benevolent in granting this piece of filth POW status in one fell swoop, but what he’s really after is putting public pressure on Congress to approve military tribunals, not full courts-martial, for detainees. It’ll be a lot harder for the House and Senate to grant full due process protection to Al Qaeda prisoners now that one of the potential beneficiaries is the mastermind of 9/11 himself.
I've got Bush on in the background while I'm writing this. I'll have to reread the speech, but it seems pretty solid from what I've caught. He wants legislation from Congress:
Asking Congress to pass legislation that will clarify the rules for dealing with terrorists.
He wants specific, recognized offenses that would be considered criminal.
Captured terrorists can not use the GC to sue our people in US Courts.
A couple quotes:
"The men and women who protect us should not have to worrya bout lawsuits from terrorists for doing their jobs."
"Congress is in session just a few more weeks, and passing this legislation oughtta be our top priority."
Whew, there is very little time left in this session.
Update: The crowd included 9/11 families and senators. The families responded loudly to the fact that the mastermind of 9/11 and some top al Qaeda men would be put on trial and brought to justice. I wonder if the trials would get as much coverage as John Mark Carr's confession.
Some other good quotes from the President's case for the course he's taken with terrorists, from the AP story:
"The most important source of information on where the terrorists are hiding and what they are planning is the terrorists themselves," Bush said in a White House speech with families of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks making up part of the audience. "It has been necessary to move these individuals to an environment where they can be held in secret, questioned by experts and, when appropriate, prosecuted for terrorist acts."
"This program has helped us to take potential mass murderers off the streets before they have a chance to kill," the president said. "It is invaluable to America and our allies."
"They will continue to be treated with the humanity that they denied others."
Or, there's the Goldstein version:
update: shorter Bush: “Waterboarding rocks! Now give me my g--damned tribunals, Congress. Because the Supremes have put the ball squarely in your court.”
Update: Kim Priestap was liveblogging.
Overall, this was a great speech. It's too bad he was forced to disclose the existence the CIA program, but the Supreme Court forced the President to do so. We need the CIA program because it's been instrumental in preventing another attack here. Many people have lamented the fact that too many Americans have forgotten how horrible 9/11 was, that too many Americans have gone back to a 9/10 world. It's because of the CIA program that we've had that luxury.
Update: Oh, just because it's always fun,a conversation from DU.
1. So.. is this good or bad?
Bad guys need to be held accountable...
2. I think bad guys like Bush SHOULD be held accountable, I agree.
although I'm sure that's not what you meant.
Bush is an admitted war criminal, on the books here admitting to violating the geneva convention and our own constitution.
which bad guys were YOU referring to?
oh, yeah, those we tortured in those secret prisons with waterboarding and hand drills in their spine.
Always recognizing the real threat, these guys. They're also questioning the timing, but you knew that already.
Update: Video, here. And, Michelle Malkin has a good rough transcription of how the CIA program has helped save lives by tracking down terrorists. Scroll down to where the pictures begin. Here's the actual transcription.
Update: Some are taking the position that the President took it to the house today.
Update: My pal Tim Chapman has taken to the YouTube. Today he has Jim Carafano, a Heritage Foundation expert, give you the Top 5 Myths About Guantanamo. Good, clear stuff.