Thursday, November 10, 2005

Which is Worse: Secret Prisons or Leaks to the Press About Secret Prisons?

If you are Bill Frist, the answer is: leaks to the press about secret prisons. Frist and Dennis Hastert, House Speaker, are calling for a joint congressional investigation into the leaks that provided the information for an article in the Washington Post about a global network of secret CIA detention and interrogation centers.

They are not calling for a joint congressional investigation into the fact, revealed in the Post article, that secret CIA-operated prisons exist, nor are they seeking to determine whether the activities in these prisons accord with the Geneva Conventions or the U.S. Constitution. No, they are calling for a joint congressional investigation into what person or persons in the Bush administration squealed to the press about these prisons.

And when asked point-blank by reporters whether he cared what went on in secret CIA detention centers, Bill Frist said no, he did not.

Frist told reporters Thursday that while he believed illegal activity should not take place at detention centers, he believes the leak itself poses a greater threat to national security and is "not concerned about what goes on" behind the prison walls.

"My concern is with leaks of information that jeopardize your safety and security -- period," Frist said. "That is a legitimate concern."

He noted that the CIA has also called for a federal criminal investigation into the leak of possibly classified information on secret prisons to The Washington Post. A November 2 Post article touched on a number of sensitive national security issues, including the existence of secret CIA detention centers for suspected terrorists in Eastern European democracies. The Bush administration has neither confirmed nor denied that report.

Frist was asked if that meant he was not concerned about investigating what goes on in detention centers.

"I am not concerned about what goes on and I'm not going to comment about the nature of that," Frist replied.

That's what came out of one side of Frist's mouth. Now, here's what came out of the other side:

He added that as Senate majority leader he is privy to classified information and discussions about prison activity. "I'm going to make sure that everything that's done is consistent with the Constitution ... and the laws of the United States of America," he said.

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