- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 15, 2005


The September 11 commission yesterday criticized the Bush administration for not adopting standards for the treatment of captured terror suspects in the panel’s review of actions on recommendations that it made last year.

The administration was given a mixed review in a report on the commission’s key recommendations that were designed to help the U.S. better prepare for and respond to a terror attack.

There was high praise for U.S. attempts to integrate the Arab and Muslim world into the global trading system and in fighting terrorism financing.

But former commission Chairman Thomas H. Kean, former Vice Chairman Lee H. Hamilton and the eight other former panel members who formed the 9/11 Public Disclosure Project found much to criticize.

Their review gave the administration the grade of “unfulfilled” on the commission’s recommendation that the United States develop a common approach with friendly nations on the treatment of captured terror suspects. The commission also had suggested that the Geneva Conventions on the law of armed conflict be applied to military prisons and secret detention centers.

What the Bush administration still needs to do, the review said, is adopt standards for terror suspects that are in accord with international law.

“These standards should cover the treatment of detainees held by all elements of the U.S. government,” the former commission members said.

And, they said, “the United States should work with its allies to develop mutually acceptable standards for terrorist detention.”

President Bush last week defended U.S. interrogation practices and called the treatment of terrorist suspects lawful.

“We do not torture,” he said.

Congress, meanwhile, is engaged in a high-profile debate over the handling of detainees. The Senate twice has signed off on legislation to ban the cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody.

The provision is included in two defense bills. The House versions of the bills do not include the language, which the White House opposes.

At yesterday’s presentation, commission member Richard Ben-Veniste said Iraq is on track to succeed Afghanistan as a terrorist training ground.

“How much this trend has been fueled by the highly publicized reports of brutalization, humiliation and desecration cannot be measured accurately,” he said. “But the flames of extremism undoubtedly burn more brightly when we are the ones who deliver the gasoline.”

On another front, the former commission members found insufficient progress on thwarting attempts by the al Qaeda network to acquire or make weapons of mass destruction.

On the positive side, the review cited an agreement reached last February by Mr. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin to secure nuclear warheads and material.

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