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We actually got an inside tip about this earlier, but I sat on it because it wasn’t confirmed. Fox just reported, though, that Tony Snow told the press corps this morning that Bush will announce some “significant news” in his speech, which is set to begin at around 1:30 ET. I’ll have video as soon as possible after it happens.

Please, God, don’t let it be what I think it is.

Update: Is this it? Jesus. I thought it’d at least be good news.

I’ve got to float this just so I can act like a genius on the very slim chance that it comes true: what if he’s going to announce they’ve captured/killed Osama? According to WaPo, families of 9/11 victims will be at the speech; the White House has asked the networks for coverage. Would they really do all that just to say they’re transferring Khaled Sheikh Mohammed to Gitmo?

Has Bush been keeping something in his pocket to mark the fifth anniversary of 9/11?

Update: Everyone’s there — Cheney, Rice, Gonzales, Negroponte, on down.

Update: Bush acknowledges that the CIA is holding special prisoners involved in 9/11 and the U.S.S. Cole. He can’t divulge details but says the program has saved lives, and is about to explain how. He says Abu Zubaydah gave up info that helped them capture Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and disrupt a terror attack inside the United States.

Bush says he stopped talking and thus the CIA had to use “an alternative set of procedures” which the DOJ determined were lawful, and which he promises were safe and necessary. He says the info Zubaydah subsequently gave up info that led to the capture of Ramzi Binalshibh.

Mohammed was subjected to the same procedures and gave up info leading to the disruption of another attack and the arrest of yet another suspect, who led them to Hambali, the mastermind of the Bali bombing. That led to a cell in southeast Asia that was probably being groomed for an attack inside the U.S., possibly using airplanes.

KSM also admitted to having met with three people in hopes of producing anthrax.

He’s naming other attacks that the interrogations have helped disrupt, including one at Heathrow. They’ve also helped paint a picture of AQ’s structure, communications network, document deciphering, IDing suspects, and unraveled plots in Europe. The program is “invaluable to America and to our allies;” if not for it, AQ likely would have succeeded in hitting us again.

“The United States does not torture.” He says he hasn’t authorized it and won’t.

He says KSM, Binalshibh, etc, have been transferred to Gitmo so that the families of 9/11 victims don’t have to wait for justice any longer. As soon as Congress acts to authorize the tribunals, the 9/11 masterminds can face justice. Exactly as I thought.

Now he’s defending Guantanamo. This was the big speech no one could miss?

The transfers, he says, mean that there’s no one left in the CIA program — but the program will remain so that new terrorists who are captured can be interrogated. He says he’s announcing this now because they’ve finished questioning them and because the Hamdan decision impaired their ability to interrogate terrorists because of the “vague and undefined” dignitary provisions of Article 3. Indeed.

He’s asking Congress to:

1. List specifically which interrogation procedures will violate the War Crimes Act.
2. Make clear that interrogators are authorized under Article 3.
3. Prevent terrorists from using Article 3 to sue interrogators.

Will Churchill 2.0 have another “special comment” tonight?

Update: It’s over. I guess I have to cut some of this crap. Check back in a half-hour or so.

Update: Here are the highlights. I left out the narrative involving Zubaydah and KSM; that’s better read than watched, so go here and look for the paragraph about a third of the way down that begins, “Within months of September the 11th, 2001, we captured a man known as Abu Zubaydah.” That’s your starting point. The Blotter has seized upon the occasion to re-run an old piece describing which methods are and aren’t available to CIA interrogators.

Tags: White House