I am more convinced than ever that Chi Trib’s Mark Silva (and AP) and I do not see eye to eye on what’s news and what isn’t when I see his “Bush acknowledges secret CIA prisons” story in today’s late-edition web site. He heard more of Bush’s talk today than I did, true; but I heard the part where he ran through the domino effect of getting this captured guy to talk, then this guy, then this, one leading to another, all of it leading to thwarted schemes to blow some of us up, including Silva and me.
President Bush, calling on Congress to quickly authorize trials of suspected terrorists with military tribunals, acknowledged for the first time today that the Central Intelligence Agency has subjected dozens to "tough" interrogation at secret prisons abroad and the remaining 14 have been transferred to Guantanamo Bay to await trial.
is his lede. Lower down, he adds:
Bush, allowing that suspects have been subject to "tough" interrogation, maintains it has stopped short of torture.
He maintains it, yes. But it’s hard to take him seriously when “Bush lied, thousands [millions?] died” is uppermost in your mind. Especially when he’s giving “a dramatically staged speech.”
Silva does get to the nub, finally, in the 9th and 10th (of 23) ‘grafs:
In his address, the president offered unusually explicit details about how the interrogation of Abu Zabudayah at first offered the CIA invaluable information about Al Qaeda. But Bush said only later—after Zabudayah was subjected to tougher CIA interrogation—did he provide information that ultimately led to the capture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other operatives and the foiling of plots.
"This program has helped us to take potential mass murderers off the streets before they were able to kill," Bush said. "Were it not for this program, our intelligence community believes that Al Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland."
Oh my, that doesn’t capture it, I’m afraid. Bush ticked off the list of interrogated in a delivery that was dramatic, whether staged that way or not. Anyhow, this should have gone much farther up, and where’s the part about voice-recognition, with its obvious reference to NSA-intercepted calls?
Sorry, Silva, there have been desk men who would have cut and pasted your hard copy (before screens, in the days of multi-carbon “books” and overhead conveyor belts) and made it right.
So what? Bush “hasn't divulged much detail about the operation or locations of the secret CIA facilities first disclosed earlier this year by The Washington Post,” and that’s what we are fixated on? Never mind attacks thwarted?
Nonetheless, truth will out, as in Silva’s 14th to 16th ‘grafs:
The interrogation of these suspects has led to extensive information about other suspects captured and plots thwarted, officials say, and in sum has provided about 50 percent of the U.S. government's knowledge of the workings of Al Qaeda, its members, its travel routes, safe houses and means of communication.
"The most important source of information on where the terrorists are hiding and what they are planning is the terrorists themselves," Bush said in his East Room address. "Captured terrorists have unique knowledge about how terrorist networks operate. They have knowledge of where the operatives are deployed, and knowledge about what plots are under way.
"This is intelligence that cannot be found any other place, and our security depends on getting this kind of information," Bush said. "To win the war on terror, we must be able to detain, question, and when appropriate, prosecute terrorists captured here in America and on the battlefields around the world."
Add to this a lot of sourced stuff presenting the administration side in the Final Five ‘grafs, and you do have a fair, if not great, idea of what Bush said. So go to the end of a Silva story, and you may find good stuff — not exactly buried, but shall we say, misplaced?