Wednesday, November 2


One has to wonder whether the Washington Post's publication this morning of classified information on the CIA's network of interrogation venues used for interrogating al Qaeda operatives is a surreptitious tag-team effort in concert with the New York Times to high-low the Bush administration and its conduct of the global war on terror.

I pose this because of a story released by the NYT this morning on the Bush administration's "detainee policy." NYT reporters Tim Golden and Eric Schmitt write:

The Bush administration is embroiled in a sharp internal debate over whether a new set of Defense Department standards for handling terror suspects should adopt language from the Geneva Conventions prohibiting "cruel," "humiliating" and "degrading" treatment, administration officials say.

Advocates of that approach, who include some Defense and State Department officials and senior military lawyers, contend that moving the military's detention policies closer to international law would prevent further abuses and build support overseas for the fight against Islamic extremists, officials said.

Their opponents, who include aides to Vice President Dick Cheney and some senior Pentagon officials, have argued strongly that the proposed language is vague, would tie the government's hands in combating terrorists and still would not satisfy America's critics, officials said.

Now read the following several times, please:

The document under discussion, known as Department of Defense Directive 23.10, would provide broad guidance from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; while it would not spell out specific detention and interrogation techniques, officials said, those procedures would have to conform to its standards. It would not cover the treatment of detainees held by the Central Intelligence Agency.

It would not cover the treatment of detainees held by the Central Intelligence Agency. Now, juxtapose that observation with the major story in WaPo this morning:

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement. The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.

The hidden global internment network is a central element in the CIA's unconventional war on terrorism. It depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions.

The top 30 al Qaeda prisoners exist in complete isolation from the outside world. Kept in dark, sometimes underground cells, they have no recognized legal rights, and no one outside the CIA is allowed to talk with or even see them, or to otherwise verify their well-being, said current and former and U.S. and foreign government and intelligence officials. Most of the facilities were built and are maintained with congressionally appropriated funds, but the White House has refused to allow the CIA to brief anyone except the House and Senate intelligence committees' chairmen and vice chairmen on the program's generalities.

The NYT exacerbated the Abu Grab controversy with story after story after photo after photo to make the case that George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld were, in their purported complicity in the mistreatment of terrorist detainees at Abu Grab (and at GITMO), no better than the terrorists against whom they are waging a global war on terror.

It sure looks to me as though the two stories were timed to give additional fodder to the anti-war extremists in the Democratic Party so that yet another concatenation of provocative MSM stories can sustain the rabid anti-Bush forces, while giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Tell me, were these stories pure coincidence?

FOLLOW-UP: John Hinderaker at Power Line sets the record straight vis-a-vis detainee treatment and the president's policy.

FOLLOW-UP II: More from the Associated Press (AP) on the president's policy vis-a-vis interrogation boundaries.