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Trying to follow the twisted logic


Latest plans to hold terror detainees for life without trial strains belief

We've come to expect disturbing contradictions in the policies of the current administration, but the latest news on detaining terror suspects still strains credulity.

Faced with international outcry over the jailing of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, U.S. officials explained that they had to act quickly to extract crucial information from terrorists and their accomplices to thwart future threats to American security.

Last week, a senior administration official said it was time to step back and look at the big picture.

We've been operating in the moment because that's what has been required,the official told The Washington Post. Now we can take a breath. We have the ability and need to look at long-term solutions.

So far, so good. But if you think U.S. authorities might decide they could afford to offer detainees some semblance of due process ' to set an example for the world, and the Middle East in particular ' you need to think again.

The Pentagon and the CIA want to build permanent facilities outside the U.S. to hold detainees for life without having to give them access to legal proceedings.

— One idea is to move Afghan, Yemeni and Saudi prisoners from Guantanamo to U.S.-built prisons in Afghanistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, which those countries would operate. The State Department would monitor the prisons, of course ' we wouldn't want anyone's rights to be violated.

Under another proposal, a new, 200-bed prison in Cuba would give prisoners greater comfort and freedom than they now enjoy, including the ability to socialize. These are prisoners who, the government has decided, have no more intelligence to share.

Follow the bouncing ball, here. They have no intelligence value, and we can't prove in court that they are guilty of anything, so we want to spend &

36;25 million to keep them locked up for the rest of their lives. But not in the United States, where we might actually have to justify life sentences without proof of guilt.

Kafka would be proud.

Pell cuts frustrating

Some 1.3 million students nationwide are expected to see their Pell Grant awards reduced next year, and some 80,000 who would have received small grants will get nothing at all. The reductions are likely to apply to all public colleges and universities in Oregon, and are based on changes in how the government calculates financial need.

Education officials say the changes probably won't force students out of college, but it will increase the amount they must borrow to stay in school.

We are sorry to see these rule changes reduce the number of students who can participate in the program. If anything, government should be making it easier for parents to send their children to college.

The federal action also puts more pressure on an already strapped Oregon state budget. Gov. Ted Kulongoski wants to expand the state's Oregon Opportunity Grant program, but the Pell reductions could offset any gains there.

Once again, Congress is leaving the states to fend for themselves, when lawmakers could help ease the burden for a relatively modest investment.