PDA

View Full Version : Silencing Our Torture at Guantanamo



Ian McColgin
12-12-2012, 07:44 PM
Published on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 by Common Dreams

Judge OKs Censorship of Torture at Guantánamo Bay Military Commission Trial
Decision will bar statements about 'illegal CIA torture, rendition and detention'

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Testimony from the defendants at the Guantánamo Bay military commission 9/11 trial describing their own torture will be censored, the ACLU announced Wednesday afternoon, dealing a blow to the First Amendment rights of the American public and crushing claims of the commission's purported transparency.

Military Judge Col. James Pohl, who is presiding over the trial, approved the US government's request to keep the details of defendants' torture from the public, and allows for a 40-second delay on the audio feed of the proceedings to continue, which, Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's National Security Program, says is "the tool through which the government unconstitutionally prevents the public from hearing testimony about torture."

The ACLU had challenged the secrecy, filing a motion in May asking for public access to the proceedings. In that motion, the ACLU stated that the government

has no legal authority to classify defendants’ statements containing their personal knowledge of the detention and treatment, including torture, to which they were subjected in U.S. custody--information that defendants acquired by virtue of the government forcing it upon them. In addition, the President of the United States has banned the illegal CIA interrogation techniques to which the defendants were subjected and closed the secret facilities at which they were held. The government’s suppression of defendants’ statements about techniques and detention that are banned and prohibited by law--and that, accordingly, cannot be legitimately employed in the future--is not justified by the government’s interest in protecting legitimate methods, and thus fails strict scrutiny as well. Finally, it is the very antithesis of the narrow tailoring required by the First Amendment for the government to categorically gag defendants when copious details about the CIA’s use of torture and coercive techniques, including on the defendants, have been disclosed publicly in official government documents and other reports and press accounts.

"We’re profoundly disappointed by the military judge’s decision, which didn’t even address the serious First Amendment issues at stake here," Shamsi stated of Judge Pohl's ruling on Wednesday. "The government wanted to ensure that the American public would never hear the defendants’ accounts of illegal CIA torture, rendition and detention, and the military judge has gone along with that shameful plan."

"For now, the most important terrorism trial of our time will be organized around judicially approved censorship of the defendants’ own thoughts, experiences and memories of CIA torture. The decision undermines the government’s claim that the military commission system is transparent and deals a grave blow to its legitimacy," said Shamsi.

Kevin Gosztola points out at Firedoglake that the ruling proves "the military commissions cannot be fair." He writes:

With this ruling, the government has won the privilege to keep the press and public in the dark on how they have treated 9/11 defendants. They have also won a precedent that will likely become a fixture of the process in this second-class legal justice system, which President Barack Obama chose to use over trials in federal courts.

This means any detainees held at Guantanamo that may find themselves being brought to trial will find it impossible to communicate to the world that their rights have been violated. Even if they are ultimately guilty of terrorism, entrenching this into the process proves the military commissions cannot be fair and that the government is capable will do whatever necessary to prevent violations of due process or human rights from infringing their ability to win convictions.

# # #

Phillip Allen
12-12-2012, 08:15 PM
"... and if elected, there will be MORE transparentcy in government"

Horace
12-12-2012, 08:38 PM
"... and if elected, there will be MORE transparentcy in government"0bama. Gotta love 'im.....

Durnik
12-13-2012, 01:20 AM
More != Absolute..

& the repubs are fighting it tooth & nail

enjoy
bobby

PeterSibley
12-13-2012, 03:13 AM
"... and if elected, there will be MORE transparentcy in government"

America, gotta love it.

skuthorp
12-13-2012, 04:30 AM
If there's no pictures (and no public trial transcript) it didn't happen eh? And of course no one will be brought to book either lest it goes up the tree till the very top. Come, say 20 years time, there'll be no mention of the subject in official histories and anyone who is critical will be labelled a traitor.

Meantime courtesy of Hollywood, the US is about to shoot itself in the foot internationally with the "How I got Bin Laden" movie.

John Smith
12-13-2012, 07:09 AM
We've lost our white hats.

Obama wanted to try these people in civil courtr in NYC. He lost that battle. It's worth remembering.

If you've got a guilty defendent and he was tortured, and we claim we got a confession from that torture, under our system that confession would not be admissible.

I'm among those who believe we should follow our own rules here, but I'm sure I'm in a minority. I believed they should be tried in NYC, but I was in a minority there, too.

Which way do we want it? Follow our prinicples or not? If we don't follow the constitution as to location or means of trial, why follow any of it?

Ian McColgin
12-13-2012, 08:47 AM
Having imprisoned these guys, we've created huge problems.

Just one example, one of the "terrorists" my brother got out of Guantanamo was really just a farmer whose land was coveted by a neighbor, so he was sold to Pakistani intelligence who sold him to us. This fellow did not really believe my brother's proffer of legal help at first and besides the matter had been settled in traditional family manner, with his uncle killing the guy who sold him and that guy's relative killing a nephew and so on. They were not able to repatriate him to his home border area of Afgahnistan so from Guantanamo he went into holding in Pakistan, which was not an improvement. If he ever gets out and then joins the terrorists, he'll certainly have good reason. It's remarkable that only some, rather than all, of the guys released from Guantanamo so far became terrorists after. These are people whom no body wants.

I am opposed to this secrecy bit but the cold fact is that among the remaining captives there likely are some truely bad guys who if released are instant terrorism heros. We have utterly destroyed all legitimate evidence and do not have a constitutional way to convict them. I'm sure someone is hoping for a mass prison break attempt as an excuse to just wipe the slate. Whatever, I really hate what we're doing but don't see a good way out either.

PhaseLockedLoop
12-13-2012, 09:56 PM
[QUOTE=Ian McColgin;3624483

I am opposed to this secrecy bit but the cold fact is that among the remaining captives there likely are some truely bad guys who if released are instant terrorism heros. We have utterly destroyed all legitimate evidence and do not have a constitutional way to convict them.[/QUOTE]

Yeah? So it'd be bad to release caged people who haven't even been charged with anything, because some of them might actually be enemies of the US and it might be bad PR? We don't know a damn thing about these people. It's astounding to me that people think of them as utter fiends, even though we don't have a particle of information about them.

Then too, it isn't just a matter of losing face because we release innocent people who George W and his gang mistreated. The Obama justice department is fighting tooth and nail to retain the so-called right to continue to put people into indefinite detention without having to give any reason and without oversight of any kind. Of course they're also enthusiastic about just wiping out people with drones on their own say-so. They maintain that they're wiping out terrorists (and whoever else is around) but they're actually wiping out people suspected of something or other. Much as we don't like it, it isn't illegal, or immoral, to be an enemy of the United States. That doesn't mean, of course, that the US doesn't have the right to protect itself against actual attack.

skuthorp
12-13-2012, 10:03 PM
"Much as we don't like it, it isn't illegal, or immoral, to be an enemy of the United States."

I can see 'these guys' being held in limbo till they die with a conspiracy of silence being the convenient way to deal with the legal anomaly. But then re GW and Cheney at least there is a similar conspiracy and the two are connected intimately, and the pollies and probably the country are not in any way prepared to deal with any of it under the law.

PhaseLockedLoop
12-14-2012, 03:09 PM
... the pollies and probably the country are not in any way prepared to deal with any of it under the law.

Of course not. There is no law.

Ian McColgin
12-14-2012, 04:51 PM
Actually there is law, both international and US, that we have been violating. But when you break the law on this scale, you find people like Bush's guy Yu to argue that it's really legal and unless it gets to the US Supreme Court you don't have a definitive ruling and even then you may not have a truely legitimate ruling.

Most of the guys who have been released to date - really a surprisingly large number - are known not to have been terrorists before captivity. Some of them may be now. It's impossible that EVERY person detained was innocent of terrorism and there's actually pretty good evidence against a dozen or so - but if we use our normal laws then police (i.e. military and intelligence agency) and prosecutorial misconduct has made prosecution on the tainted evidence impossible. The only way they can be prosecuted is to overtly not allow arguments about torture etc.

In some ways it does not matter. Innocent or guilty these are hard people to repatriate. Mostly, their home countries really don't want them. Nor do other nations. When they do go back, it turns out to be into homeland captivity worse than anything we might do.

One can talk a great game either from a consistent right wing view, or from the right wing view that likes to taunt libs about Obama, or from various liberal views, but in all cases translating the talk into acceptable action is where the talk fails. Truth is, now that we've got them, now that we've kept them so long, now that Congress has refused to move them into the regular federal system, no one has a clue as to what to do next.