President Bush said Wednesday that 14 high-profile terror suspects held secretly until now by the Central Intelligence Agency � including the man accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks � had been transferred to the detention center at Guant�namo Bay, Cuba, to face military tribunals if Congress approves.
The suspects include Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, thought to be the Sept. 11 mastermind, and other close associates of Osama bin Laden. Mr. Bush said he had decided to �bring them into the open� after years in which the C.I.A. held them without charges in undisclosed sites abroad, in a program the White House had not previously acknowledged.
The announcement, in the East Room of the White House, was the first time the president had discussed the secret C.I.A. program, and he made clear that he had fully authorized it. Mr. Bush defended the treatment the suspects had received but would not say where the so-called �high-value terrorist detainees� had been held or what techniques had been used to extract information from them.
The transfer of the high-level suspects to Guant�namo Bay effectively suspended the extraordinary program, in which the intelligence agency became the jailer and interrogator of suspects counterterrorism officials considered the world�s most wanted Islamic extremists.
The government says the 14 terror suspects include some of the most senior members of Al Qaeda captured by the United States since 2001, including those responsible for the bombing of the destroyer Cole in 2000 in Yemen and the 1998 attacks on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Most of the detainees have been interviewed extensively and are believed to have little remaining intelligence value.
With the transfer of the suspects to Guant�namo, which is run by the Defense Department, the International Committee of the Red Cross will monitor their treatment, Mr. Bush said. He used the East Room appearance to urge Congress to authorize new military commissions to put terror suspects on trial, replacing rules established by the administration but struck down in June by the Supreme Court.