Obama Administration Blasts British Court For Disclosing Abuses at Guantanamo Bay

The Obama Administration has taken the rare step of criticizing a British court. Why? Because the court released a few paragraphs of a report that confirmed our abuse and torture of detainees. Spokesman Ben LaBolt denounced the release of the information and threatened to cut off access of the British to classified information in the future. Note these paragraphs do not appear to reveal any new classified technique, but rather confirm our violations of international law — evidence that the Obama Administration has been refusing to release.

Americans are already following the British investigation to learn about the decision to invade Iraq — information that remains classified or unavailable in the United States (here).

Now, we can look to the British courts to confirm abuses of detainees that our courts and Congress have effectively blocked.

LaBolt said the administration “shared this information in confidence and with certain expectations.” Those expectations were that the British would support its effort to cover up the full extent of our human rights violations.

The paragraphs were released earlier on the British Foreign Office website, and conceded that the detainee, Binyam Mohamed, faced “at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities.” Mohamed was never charged and eventually released. The disclosure has more legal than national security implications — which is why the Administration is so upset. Obama has blocked any investigation into torture or war crimes. At the same time, it has been seeking to dismiss any lawsuits that would reveal the extent of the abuse. Any such litigation would reveal not only our violations but highlight the role of the Obama Administration in protecting Bush officials from any accountability for those violations.

For the full story, click here.

21 thoughts on “Obama Administration Blasts British Court For Disclosing Abuses at Guantanamo Bay”

  1. Yes, when it comes to Iraq, Gitmo and national security, you have to give it up for the Obama Administration…. good men have never done less. Big thanks to the Bush-in-tan.

  2. Anonymously Yours,

    Evidently the British Court made a typo in its decision.

    “17 May 2001” is now being set forth as “17 May 2002” … several months before the 9/11 Commission began.

    The Commissioners have said they now know that much of the testimony from detainees which they relied on was tortured information (they were tortured until they gave certain info).

    I updated my blog.

  3. Anonymously Yours,

    You said “I missed the part about being pre 01” …

    Actually I said pre 9/11 but I get your drift. The redacted portion that was un-redacted says in part:

    It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2001 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer

    Some times we have to pressure the free press …


  4. I expect that the use of torture by the United States government will only grow from here. While there may be more attempts to rebrand it and obscure it, the application of torture will broaden from use on so-called enemy combatants to domestic terrorists and eventually to domestic criminals and enemies. I predict that even State governments will eventually have the legal power to torture citizens, and not just incidentally with tasers.

    If voters were asked whether or not accused child molesters or rapists should be subject to “enhanced” interrogation techniques to extract confessions very few would object. Most would see torture of child molesters as just, especially if it is packaged in a way that purports to protect society. I see little evidence that the courts will stand in the way of an executive and legislature intent on executing on the basest retributive instincts of those who keep them in power.

    Ultimately torture is designed not to gather intelligence but to create fear in the populace and strengthen authority. Torture will be used as a tool in the “war” on many classes of criminal activity, and perhaps formalized torture will even become a dynamic within the prison system. What authoritarian government does in a soft way today (by calling on patriotism, morality, or security) shows more signs of hardening tomorrow. By the time individuals realize that dissent itself is defined as criminal activity against government there will be no avenue to recapture the freedoms they have given away.

  5. I’m probably missing something, but it seems to me that since the Brits promised confidentiality upon receiving classified information and the court’s ruling abrogated that confidentiality, the Obama administration would naturally be concerned. Not about the information on torture of Mr. Mohammed – that had been made public here in the US previously – but about the confidentiality of that information.

    The court’s reasoning is here:

    (The Court of Appeal said recent events in the US courts were a key reason for releasing the UK summary of what had happened to Mr Mohamed.

    Just before Christmas, a US Court ruled on a related case involving a different detainee, in which the judge provided pages of detailed information on how Mr Mohamed had been abused.
    The judge said his treatment was torture – and her reasoning was cleared for publication by the US security officials.

    Following this week’s ruling in London, Mr Miliband gave a statement to the House of Commons, saying he accepted the court’s decision, but that the government’s objection had never been about the seven paragraphs specifically.

    “We have fought this case and brought the appeal to defend a principle we believe is fundamental to our national security – that intelligence shared with us will be protected by us,” the foreign secretary said. )

    International cooperation on information about suspected terrorists is surely based on mutual agreements of confidentiality.

    This seems to have less to do with the actions of either nation, on or to terrorists, than with the trust between them that classified information will not be exposed in open court documents.

  6. It amuses me that our government is upset with the British government for actually following the law and produce what the court ordered it to produce. It has been said earlier that we will not heal as a country without the full story coming out in the open and without the criminals being prosecuted. If the Obama Administration does not follow the law, they are complicit in the crime. The whole reason why they do not want all of the facts out in the public domain is that the details are so bad that the public will revolt against Obama if he doesn’t prosecute Bush and his fellow felons. The Rahm way of “staying the Bush course” is going to come back and bite him and his boss!

  7. The other side of how bogus the “recruiting tool” argument is, would be the victims of torture themselves. The US media doesn’t include their voices in coverage of these issues, but I’m sure that media around the world, and in particular media in countries and communities where al Qaeda recruits cover this. We generally don’t hear people say, “I was tortured,” but the rest of the world hears what these people have to say. When the US covers it up, we make ourselves look like the Soviets or our slimy friends like the Egyptian or similarly despised, repressive governments. Now that’s a recruiting tool for al Qaeda!

    When the USSR occupied Afghanistan, they were stupid, clumsy, ill-equipped and impatient as their empire was crumbling. At our best, the US can be smart, sophisticated and patient. We don’t need to torture (often false) information out of people, we’re smarter and stronger than that.

    We don’t benefit from hysterical, ignorant right-wingers engaging in self-terrorism. The US threw off the British Empire, built the world’s largest economy, won a global war against two imperial nations, and outlasted the Soviet empire. As long as we don’t implode by ripping our own Constitution to shreds, we can certainly outlast and overcome some hysterical, conservative religious fanatics in caves.

  8. Keeping the information private because it could be used as a recruiting tool is completely bogus…the first incidenct of torture and the first confirmation thereof was enough.

    Finally, additional confirmation of already confirmed torture is not making recruitment easier — nightly drone strikes into areas with civilians do that just fine.

  9. From yesterday:
    “British Torture Summary Released – Binyam Mohamed
    By: Bill Egnor Wednesday February 10, 2010 7:00 am

    One of the reasons I have always argued for a full investigation of the treatment of prisoners by the U.S. government is that the truths is going to come out sooner rather than later. For those who want to hide from accountability under the law later is always the better goal. The longer it takes for the abuses of the Bush Administration torture program to come to light the less likely there is to be an outcry and the more likely those who ordered and carried out torture are to elderly or dead.

    Today the British government lost its appeal and was forced to disclose a new piece of the torture puzzle. In 2002 a British subject by the name of Binyam Mohamed was arrested in Pakistan. He claims he was tortured there, then sent to Morocco where he was also beaten and finally in 2004 sent to Guantanamo Bay. If Mr. Mohamed’s name seems familiar to you, it should. He is the man who claims he was tortured by a scalpel slicing his genitals”


  10. I don’t understand why the Administration is getting its collective knickers in a twist – it’s already been proven we tortured. This just further confirms what’s already been confirmed.

    It just boggles my mind over how Bush & his Cabal of Criminals are getting a pass from our own government for confirmed illegalities. Well, I take comfort in the fact that at least someone is doing what ought to be done.

    Shame on the Obama DOJ.

  11. Dredd,

    I may have missed the part about being pre 9/11 but this story says that “Mr Mohamed, an Ethiopian granted refugee status in Britain in 1994, was initially arrested in Pakistan in 2002 over a visa irregularity and was handed over to US officials. He was secretly flown to Morocco in 2002.”

    I missed the part about being pre 01.

  12. One of the fine points:

    the torture of the British citizen this story is concerned with …

    took place BEFORE 9/11 … !!!

  13. If you are a country willing to let criminals in power go unpunished, you are neither just nor an appropriate as a role model for anyone let alone other countries. America was once an aspiration for other countries. Now? It’s more like a running bad joke.

    The only way to fix our international standing is to prosecute Bush and Cheney. That was always the fix and will remain the fix as long as other countries can look at us and say, “Rig elections and start illegal wars for personal profit all while torturing in contravention of their domestic and international law? Well they did it, why can’t we?”

    War crimes prosecutions for those criminals in the Bush Administration isn’t a nicety, Bill. It’s a necessity – both internationally and domestically.

    We won’t recover as a nation until justice is had – all the way around from Cheney to his Saudi masters. Many people don’t give a damn about partisanship, but almost every decent person hates to see criminals go free – especially criminals who have taken actions resulting in the deaths of innocents. Especially if their motive in committing these crimes was simple greed.

    More coverups won’t help resolve our problems as a country. It will only exacerbate our situation, festering until a boiling point is reached.

  14. Professor,

    I can understand why the current administration would want to keep this information private. Proof that we torture is legitimately a recruiting tool used by our enemies.

    I also think it is foolish to think even more details will not become public, and the current administration must decide how to move forward when it does.

    I don’t think it behooves us to prosecute the previous administration, however, it tarnishes President Obama’s image if he does nothing. It appears to the rest of the world he is ‘soft on’ torture.


  15. Obama and Holder!

    If you’re upset that this make you look like conspiratorial unconstitutional jackasses?

    How about you doing that thing, what is it, oh yeah, UPHOLD YOUR SWORN DUTY TO PROTECT THE CONSTITUTION FROM ENEMIES FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC AND PUT BUSH AND CHENEY ON TRIAL. You know. One of those things you were elected to do, Barry – you sold out K Street whore you.

    Whiny children is what you sound like on the international front. Criminally liable whiny children. Caught with your hand in the graft and crime cookie jar and afraid that your constituents will find out you don’t care about them, only about Exxon. Well guess what? That horse is out of the barn, nitwits.

  16. But MAW, the British made me do it, they really did. We even had a code in the old North Church. Are we still keeping watch?

    Listen, my children, and you shall hear
    Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
    On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;
    Hardly a man is now alive
    Who remembers that famous day and year

    Oh my how things have changed.

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