(By Melanie Hunter, CNSNews.com) – President Bush announced Wednesday that he is sending legislation to
Congress that will allow U.S. military commissions to try foreign
Also, 14 key
terrorist suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected
mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, have been transferred from CIA custody
to U.S. military custody at the Guantanamo Bay, the president said.
“Soon after the
war on terror began, I authorized a system of military commissions to
try foreign terrorists accused of war crimes,” said Bush in a speech in
commissions have been used by presidents from George Washington to
Franklin Roosevelt to prosecute war criminals, because the rules for
trying enemy combatants in a time of conflict must be different than
those for trying common criminals or members of our own military,” the
“One of the first
prospective terrorists to be put on trial by military commission was
one of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards, a man named Hamdan. His lawyers
challenged the legality of the military commission system,” Bush said.
After the Court
of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the military
commissions, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the decision, saying
that the commissions must be “explicitly authorized” by Congress.
As a result, Bush
said, he is sending legislation to Congress authorizing military
commissions to try terrorists for war crimes. He has vowed to work with
both sides of the aisle in the House and the Senate to get the measure
“We put forward a
bill that ensures these commissions are established in a way that
protects our national security and ensures a full and fair trial for
those accused. The procedures in the bill I am sending to Congress
today reflect the reality that we are a nation at war, and that it’s
essential for us to use all reliable evidence to bring these people
justice,” Bush said.
Coming up on the
five-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Bush said the families of
those who died “have waited patiently for justice” and should not have
to wait any longer.
To that end, the
president said Mohammed and 13 other terrorists are now in the custody
of the Defense Department at Guantanamo Bay, and as soon as Congress
authorizes the military commissions, those terrorists “can face
The U.S. will
also seek prosecution of those believed to be responsible for the
attack on the USS Cole and the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and
prosecutions, we will send a clear message those who kill Americans –
‘no matter how long it takes, we will find you, and we will bring you
to justice,'” said Bush.
Guantanamo, the terrorist detainees will be given access to lawyers,
who will prepare their defense, and “they will have access to the same
food, clothing, medical care, and opportunities for worship as other
detainees,” the president said.
They will be
questioned according to the new U.S. Army field manual, which the
Defense Department is issuing today, Bush said, and “they will continue
to be treated with the humanity that they denied others.”
Bush would like
to close the Guantanamo Bay military facility, Bush said. “America has
no interest in being the world’s jailer,” he said.
However, that is
not possible right now because many countries have refused to accept
their nationals held at the facility, while others have not “provided
adequate assurances that their nationals will not be mistreated or they
will not return to the battlefield, as more than a dozen people
released from Guantanamo already have,” Bush added.
Bush disputed reports that the detainees at Guantanamo had been mistreated.
Of the thousands
of terrorists captured around the world, only about 770 were ever sent
to Guantanamo Bay, while 315 of those have been returned to other
countries and about 455 remain in U.S. custody in Cuba.
the same quality of medical care as the American servicemembers who
guard them,” said Bush. He added that government officials from over 30
countries and delegations from international groups have visited the
military prison facility.
One member of the
delegation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
that visited Guantanamo called it a “model prison where people are
treated better than in prisons of his own country.”
“As we prosecute
suspected terrorist leaders and operatives, who have now been
transferred to Guantanamo, we’ll continue searching for those who will
step forward to take their places,” Bush pledged.
Once the 14
terrorists have been transferred, there will be no terrorists in the
CIA program, he said, acknowledging the CIA program publicly.
“Some ask, ‘why are you acknowledging this program now,'” the president said.
“First, we have
largely completed our questioning of these men, and to start the
process for bringing them to trial, we must bring them into the open.
Second, the Supreme Court’s recent decision has impaired our ability to
prosecute terrorist through military commissions and has put in
question the future of the CIA program,” said Bush.
Three, a provision of the Geneva Conventions, prohibits “outrages upon
personal dignity and humiliating and degrading treatment,” Bush said,
but the provision is “vague and undefined, and each can be interpreted
in different ways by American or foreign judges.”
and intelligence personnel could be at risk of prosecution under the
War Crimes Act, “simply for doing their job in a thorough and
professional way,” which is “unacceptable,” Bush said.
The president is
calling on Congress to list the specific recognizable offenses that
would be considered crimes under the War Crimes Act, so that military
and intelligence officials can know what they can and cannot do in
handling terrorist suspects.
Bush is also asking Congress to make sure terrorists cannot use the Geneva Conventions to sue U.S. personnel in U.S. courts.
Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.
In his speech yesterday, President Bush said that soon after the war on
terror began, he “authorized a system of military commissions to try
foreign terrorists accused of war crimes.”
a) Why have other presidents, including George Washington and Franklin Roosevelt used military commissions as well?
b) Who was the first person to challenge the legality of the Bush administration’s military commission system?
Why is President Bush now sending legislation to Congress that would
authorize military commissions to try terrorists for war crimes?
d) Do you agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling in para. 6? Explain your answer.
2. Why does President Bush say it is so important for Congress to authorize the military commissions?
3. a) Who is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
b) Why hasn’t he been tried for his crimes yet?
c) The U.S. will also seek prosecution of those believed to be responsible for what other attacks?
4. What message does President Bush say will be sent by prosecuting these terrorists?
5. President Bush said he would like to close the Guantanamo Bay military facility.
a) Why isn’t it possible to do so right now?
b) What type of medical care do the detainees receive at Guantanamo?
c) How did a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe describe the Gitmo prison?
6. What reasons did President Bush give for publicly acknowledging the CIA program?
7. Overall, how would you describe U.S. treatment of suspected terrorists? Explain your answer.
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