Tennessee Republican Sen. Bill Frist wants to get to the bottom of something. He’s so worked up he’s calling for joint congressional hearings on the scale of the 9/11 Commission.
“A string of prisons in Eastern Europe in which suspects are held and tortured indefinitely, without trial, without lawyers, without the right to confront their accusers, without knowing the evidence or the charges against them, if any. Forever. It’s “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.” Another secret prison in the midst of a military camp on an island run by an infamous dictator. Prisoner without a name, cell without a number,” explains Molly Ivins.
As Sen. John McCain said, speaking of the terrorist enemy, “This isn’t about who they are. This is about who we are.”
The League of Compassionate Conservatives led by Sen. Bill Frist is demanding some answers in a letter signed by him and Speaker of the House Republican Dennis Hastert, delivered on November 8 to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Are they shocked to see that American policy regarding the humane treatment of prisoners according to the Geneva Conventions has been abandoned? Are they angry that we have leaders who are actually fighting for the right to torture? Are Frist and Hastert demanding an investigation into the existence of what The Washington Post described as “black sites,” secret detention facilities maintained by our own government?
“We request that you immediately initiate a joint investigation into the possible release of classified information to the media alleging that the United States government may be detaining and interrogating terrorists at undisclosed locations abroad,” said Frist and Hastert.
They are seeking a Federal investigation to discover the leak that enabled the Washington Post to report: “The CIA is holding an unknown number of prisoners in secret detention centers abroad. In violation of the Geneva Conventions, it has refused to register those detainees with the International Red Cross or to allow visits by its inspectors. Its prisoners have ‘disappeared,’ like the victims of some dictatorships.”
Don’t despair! The League of Compassionate Conservatives bungled this with such slapstick that it rivals the Keystone Cops… Alexander Bolton reports Bungling meant leak letter leaked.
On Tuesday at 11:36 a.m., the Drudge Report reported that Frist and Hastert would “announce a bicameral investigation into the leak of classified information to The Washington Post regarding the ‘black sites’ where high-value al Qaeda terrorists are being held,” catching Senate and House Republicans off-guard.
CNN reported earlier in the day that Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) had said a Republican senator may have leaked information about the so-called black sites to the Post. Lott told reporters yesterday that he had been talking about another Post article. He said he was not talking about the article about the detention and interrogation facilities.
GOP aides conjectured privately that Frist’s delay in signing the letter may have been caused by concern over the possibility of endangering a Republican senator by calling for the investigation.
Frist told a gaggle of reporters at around 5 p.m. that he had not signed the letter. He did not sign it until 5:45 p.m. But even after then, it was not certain whether Frist had signed the letter. Frist’s office compounded the confusion by informing some reporters that he had signed the letter but also decided not to release it.Don’t miss On Rumsfeld’s Watch, Nat Hentoff’s commentary on a PBS documentary that aired on October 18 (watch the full program online) entitled “The Torture Question,” produced, directed, and written by Michael Kirk that names U.S. torture commanders.