President Bush says 14 high-profile terrorism suspects held in secret CIA prisons have been transferred to the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba, and will be put on trial.
This is the first time the administration has confirmed the existence of those prisons run by the Central Intelligence Agency. In a speech broadcast from the White House on Wednesday, Mr. Bush defended the secret prisons, saying they were designed to hold and allow the questioning of a small number of the most dangerous terrorists.
He said the questioning of those detainees has provided critical intelligence that has helped prevent terrorist attacks in the United States and elsewhere.
Those prisoners will now face prosecution while in the custody of the Department of Defense. That change of status means they will be given protection under the international Geneva Conventions, which outline humane treatment for prisoners of war.
The suspects include al-Qaida members Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh. Both men have been linked to the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the United States.
In his speech, Mr. Bush called on Congress to approve legislation he is submitting today to hold military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Mr. Bush's plan for such tribunals, saying Congress must pass a law to create them.
The president said about 455 detainees remain at Guantanamo.
Mr. Bush called on Congress to clarify the rules on fighting the war on terror, particularly those covering what acts are considered war crimes. He asked lawmakers to make sure terrorists cannot use the Geneva Conventions to sue U.S. service personnel for simply doing their jobs.