SOME months ago the Washington Post published articles claiming that the Bush administration was running secret prisons overseas at which suspected terrorists were being subjected to extreme forms of questioning. The White House and the State Department denied the existence of the camps; Condoleezza Rice was particularly emphatic in saying that there was nothing in the reports.

On Wednesday President Bush spoke to an invited audience, among which were family members of victims of the 2001 attacks on New York's Twin Towers, and calmly told them that the secret camps had existed outside the United States to hold “a small number of terrorist suspects” who were questioned in a “special programme” by the Central Intgeliigence Agency. Mr Bush also said that he would not reveal the location of the camps to “avoid retribution against America's allies”. One purpose of Mr Bush's speech on Wednesday was to announce that 14 prisoners from the secret camps had been moved to Guantanamo Bay so that they could face eventual trial once new procedures for such trials have been approved by Congress to replace those ruled to be illegal by the US Supreme Court earlier this year. Another purpose, obviously, was to give the impression of action by the administration in the run-up to the Novemebr mid-term elections.

Remarkably, Mr Bush did not seem in the least bit bothered by the fact that he and members of his administration had lied and lied again about the secret camps.


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