What George Bush Didn't Say About Guantanamo

09/07/2006 12:13 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

If we had to rely solely on the word of George W. Bush about the progress in
the war on terrorism and the value of information obtained from Muslim
prisoners in U.S. custody we would be in trouble. Bush's speech today from
the White House was both self-serving and misleading. I give the President
credit for one thing--he's a great propagandist. Let's ignore for the
moment that terrorist attacks in which people have been killed or wounded
have quadrupled since 2001. Are you getting this? We have four times as
many attacks with people being killed and wounded by terrorists and Bush
wants you to believe you are better off. But I digress.

According to Bush, secret prisons and torture have kept America safe. Not
entirely true. While fessing up to the secret prisons, one of the critical
things Bush failed to tell the American people was that CIA interrogators
learned the hard way that torture was not an effective interrogation method.
Books written by Jim Risen and Ron Suskind during the past two years provide
compelling accounts that torture against people, particularly Khalid Sheikh
Mohamad (KSM), was ineffective. Suskind recounts that KSM, one of the
masterminds behind the 9-11 attack, was waterboarded--a technique designed
to make you feel like you are drowning. Interrogators also threatened to
rape and murder his family. KSM reportedly replied, "Do what you will, my
family will be with God".

Bush also neglected to mention that, despite his previous criticism of the
Clinton Administration for not fighting terrorism as a military threat,
almost all of the Al Qaeda operatives cited in his speech were captured
through intelligence operations. In other words, most of the successes we
have achieved as a nation in tracking down and capturing terrorists has been
the work of law enforcement and and intelligence officials, not our

Another thing not mentioned by Bush in the speech today concerns the CIA
officers who first told Washngton Post reporter Dana Priest about the secret
prisons; they spoke up because they were alarmed by the Administration's
violations of the Geneva Accords and its refusal to recognize that torture
was counterproductive.

Bush, being Bush, can't help himself and fills his speech with genuine bad
guys and hapless souls who had no means or ability to carry out terrorist
attacks. Iyman Faris, for example, is once again trottted out as an Al
Qaeda terrorist who was going to take down the Brooklyn Bridge. Yet,
subsequent investigation demonstrated he was a man of wild dreams with no
competence to harm the bridge. He was the type of guy who could be conned
into buying it, but he had trouble blowing up balloons.

The Bush con game--to persuade the American people that we are safer only if
Republicans are elected--is wearing thin. Today's speech is remarkable in
one regard. Bush at least fessed up that he was witting of the secret
prisons. This is good because at least the CIA won't be fingered as the
rogue elephant who took it upon itself to torture muslim prisoners. That
was a decsion made at the highest levels by political officials. If
Congress decides to take this issue up and put in place a legal procedure
for trying and punishing those individuals who are serious about killing
Americans, they can help start the process of removing this stain on our
national honor.

During the Cold War we fought the Soviet Union, who were masters at using
secret prisons and torture. We won the Cold War in part because we at least
knew such behavior is reprehensible. Now, in the midst of a newly declared
non-war war, we have met the enemy and surrendered our nation's integrity
and honor. Republicans and Democrats need to come together on one critical
point--when it comes to fighting terrorists, we cannot and should not act
like terrorists. That's a point George Bush still does not grasp.