Americans Don’t Have the Right to Learn Just How Detainees Were Tortured


Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

Earlier this week I read on the ACLU website the Appellate Court decision in ACLU, et al v. Department of Defense, et al,  which decided you and I are not entitled to learn how our government tortured detainees illegally. “A federal appeals court today ruled that the government can continue suppressing transcripts in which former CIA prisoners now held at Guantánamo Bay describe abuse and torture they suffered in CIA custody. The ruling came in an ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to obtain uncensored transcripts from Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) used to determine if Guantánamo detainees qualify as  “enemy combatants.” It didn’t surprise me that the ACLU lost this appeal, but what surprised me is the lack of attention this case got in the main stream media.

This decision is a stark example of just how weak the Freedom of Information Act really is. At least in the eyes of the Courts when the Government presents its proverbial “get out jail free card” by arguing that the documents that were withheld or heavily redacted, fell under an exemption of the FOIA due to national security and intelligence gathering needs. It is important to note here that the documents that the ACLU was asking for were the transcripts of the detainees’ own statements detailing just how they claim they were tortured. As the ACLU attorney, Ben Wizner, put it,  “The notion that the CIA can classify torture victims’ descriptions of their own first-hand experiences is dangerous and far-reaching,” said Wizner. “No court has ever held that unconfirmed allegations offered by detainees concerning the treatment to which they themselves were subjected could be classified and suppressed.”  The gist of the Government’s claim is that even though these detainees’ allegations of torture are not proven, they are too dangerous to our National Security to disclose just what those allegations are! Am I the only one that thinks that by arguing the national security exemption here that the Government is admitting the truth of these detainee’s allegations? 

Isn’t it time for the Freedom of Information Act to actually provide us the freedom to see what our government is doing under our names?  When the Courts grant the government the broad leeway under the label of “national security”, how are crimes that were committed by the government supposed to be uncovered and prosecuted?

Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

29 thoughts on “Americans Don’t Have the Right to Learn Just How Detainees Were Tortured

  1. When will Americans learn the truth about Bush’s (and now Obama’s) Terrorist Surveillance Program? Americans deserve to know what’s going on domestically, just as we have the right to know the details about torture.

    If American’s knew…, but they don’t, and so it continues.

    Thanks for this posting, rafflaw.

    Former Spy With Agenda Operates a Private C.I.A

    Duane R. Clarridge still runs a private spy agency, after the military ended his contract.

    By MARK MAZZETTI Published: January 22, 2011

  2. Good point AY,but I still want to know!
    Dredd, it is always a great day when you can quote a Jefferson Airplane song!
    Anon nurse, Thanks and a great link!

  3. Two quick Book recommendations:

    Gore Vidal’s Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace
    and Iain M Bank’s Transition

    The first speaks for itself (it’s a collection of essays), the second reminds us just what we as a society have signed off on.

  4. I should mention that Bank’s work is fiction, possibly of the science variety (I’m not really sure it qualifies as Science Fiction, but there’s more than a bit of Multiple Universes in there).

    It also should be handed to anyone who like Rand as an example of how you tell a story with a point and NOT have characters give the same 20 page speech three times in the same book.

  5. We insisted on sending Milosevic to the Hague. It’s time we stop holding others to a higher standard than we hold ourselves to. Cheney, Rumsfeld and GW Bush should be sent to the Hague.

  6. Long ago have our Courts – with honorable exemptions – lost their position in our tri-partite government. The Judges are paid – are they not? By the same government? In the same form – worthless fed notes – that are illegaly circulating since the early 20th century, correct? So, now we are deeply entrenched in the banksters, oil-robber-barons, military junta and civilian-contractors-drug dealers government, right? So of course we don’t have the right to know – if we did – and applied that knowledge correctly, we’d live in a Republic again!

  7. By the way, have you considered that milosevic, a permanent resident of the U.S. and a Wall-Street banker in the ’80 – is a member of the above-mentioned circle? He took orders, like norriega, pinochet, etc., and then he ‘died’ in custody – has anyone ever seen his body? I bet ya he’s confortambly numb and silent and alive in russia now…so add putin to the above circle-of-friends and get the whole picture…no more nations…its already one world tyrrany…of psychopaths…

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