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Terrorist Plots Thwarted, Secret CIA Prisons:
Don't miss two important GWOT-related news stories in tomorrow's papers: The first concerns thwarted terrorists attacks in the UK, apparently including one plot cracked after investigator decrypted an encrypted computer, and the second is a very interesting piece on the front page of tomorrow's Washington Post about CIA secret prisons around the world.
Jeroen Wenting (mail):
In other words, the WP again regurgitates the old conspiracy theory about "CIA concentration camps" where they put everyone who doesn't agree with Bush.
Are they really that desperate for anything to use against the president that they have to start making things up as they go along?
11.2.2005 2:51am
A Blogger:
Jereon,

Why do you think the Post is making things up? Please provide evidence for your own conspiracy theory. Thanks.
11.2.2005 3:00am
Buck Turgidson (mail):
The WaPo story is interesting for a number of reasons. First, they clearly got some cooperation for the story from the CIA and gave some in return (not publishing some information that they had available). But what is more interesting is who gave them the information and why. They are citing language from classified reports--did they see the reports? This would be an interesting case on the heels of the Plame scandal.

On one hand, it appears that the story is damaging to WH. It's yet another revelation of covert imprisonment that may well have resulted in torture. On the other hand, look at the timing and the sourcing. The story might have come from disgruntled military who don't want to be associated with this kind of operation. But it appears even more likely that the story had been intentionally leaked to control the kind of information released. The timing is perfect. First, it may distract from all the other WH disasters. Second, the fact that WaPo printed the story concerning admittedly classified info can be used (unsuccessfully, I believe) to claim that the Plame case was no different. If we believe the Salt Pit story deserves to be printed then Plame deserves to be outed. Note also that WH has done similar incredibly stupid information dumps in the past--at one point releasing the identity of a spy in the field who essentially lost his status as a major resource as a result. At that time, the release was strategic--it was meant to validate the information that supposedly led to an increase in security a day earlier. Of course, as it turned out, the asset was real (until revealed) but the info was fiction, as the security alerts coincided almost 1-for-1 with Bush popularity dips before the elections. Just ask Tom Ridge.

So, was this a similarly planted distraction that was meant to preoccupy the Lefties while more important things were happening in Washington? Or was this a leak by silent opposition, meant to discredit the administration even further, following the Wilkerson and Scowcroft comments last week? The conspiracy theories should prove quite fruitful here.
11.2.2005 3:25am
Medis:
Regardless of what tangled webs are being weaved, I think the secret prisons story is worth commenting about on its substance. In particular, it suggests many ways in which doing the immoral and illegal thing also ends up being the improvident thing.
11.2.2005 7:28am
Al Maviva (mail):
You missed the really big news in the Post yesterday, concerning Koran abuse. It was reported that Marines stationed at Khandahar are using pages torn from the Koran to shine their boots.

Of course the Marines there are wearing tan boots made from very rough suede, which cannot be polished, but that didn't keep the Post from reporting the allegation as fact, without rebuttal from the USMC.

I agree with Mr. Zarqawi. The real battlefield in this war is the media.
11.2.2005 8:27am
SuperChimp:
Conspirators,

What is your take on this story? Besides the moral implications, are these CIA prisons legal? Can the president authorize such activity? I'd be interested in some posts on the subject.
11.2.2005 9:24am
SuperChimp:
If these prisons do skirt the legal boundaries of executive power, it's a good thing Bush got Roberts appointed. Anyone know how Alito would vote on sensitive executive power issues?
11.2.2005 9:25am
Al Maviva (mail):
I don't know about the limits of executive power. I do know that the ACLU's position - that we can neither hold captured AQ, nor repatriate them (due to the likelihood of torture in their nations of origin) is untenable.

Congress, which could do something to remedy the legal ambiguities here, has been remarkably silent on the issue, just as they have been remarkably silent on the issues of military tribunals and the detention of terror suspects who are also U.S. persons. It's all well and good to blame Bush for everything, but Congress's dereliction of duties is staggering. As usual, they prefer to punt the tough questions to the Executive branch, or to the courts.
11.2.2005 10:37am
A.S.:
Isn't this leak of classified information (in the WaPo story) EXACTLY the kind of information that is covered by the Espionage Act? I mean, we heard a lot about about how the Espionage Act covered things like troops locations, etc. How about prison locations? Sounds like it to me!

Send out the bat-signal for Pat Fitzgerald. We got a major leak of classified information. Time to start a special counsel investigation.
11.2.2005 10:46am
Ross Levatter (mail):
As a non-lawyer, the part of this story that struck me, hearing it only on the radio this morning, is that (the radio story claimed), these prisons are run by the US govt(manned by the US govt) OUTSIDE the US because it would be illegal to do so INSIDE the US.

Isn't that a strange legal code? The govt is banned from violating rights of Americans and non-Americans in the US, but the very same actions, if done on a strip of land outside the legal boundaries of the USA, done by the same taxpayer-employed agent, following commands of the same taxpayer-paid govt., is perfectly acceptable from a legal perspective.

I appreciate national boundaries control certain legal distinctions, but the legitimacy of torture doesn't seem to my legally-unschooled mind to be one of them.
11.2.2005 11:01am
Shelby (mail):
Al Maviva:
Congress, which could do something to remedy the legal ambiguities here, has been remarkably silent on the issue

I'm no fan of John McCain, but he has been leading a high-profile push in the Senate to forbid torture by US troops or federal agents. Andrew Sullivan's obsessing over it.
11.2.2005 12:18pm
cfw (mail):
Looks like high crimes or misdemeanors, and grounds for impeachment, from a technical perspective, unless CIA just used foreigners to do the torture.

We know from recent USSCT precedent that the fact of location of the CIA facility in Cuba (or some other country) does not give the CIA a pass.

If the CIA tortures US citizens, the due process clause seems clearly applicable.

Why the due process clause would not apply because the CIA has foreigners in its custody escapes me. Cases involving foreign nationals on death row in the US make clear that the due process clause applies to foreigners as well as US citizens held by US authorities, yes?

The only out for Bush, it seems to me, is if the CIA claims no involvement in the torture, done by foreigners beyond CIA control.

Despicable, in a word, if it is true that Bush (plus Chaney and Addington) blessed torture by the CIA in the GWOT. Addington has besmirched the name of Duke Law School as badly as Nixon, I am afraid.
11.2.2005 12:32pm