Wednesday, September 06, 2006

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

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.”


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