Kangaroo Commissions and Torture

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

The five alleged 9/11 defendants currently being held at Guantanamo Bay where they have been detained since 2006, are currently preparing their defenses for trials that are scheduled for September 2014.  All five defendants have been subjected to what the United States government called enhanced interrogation techniques at CIA black sites even before they got to Gitmo.

“Five men are suspected to have planned the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The accused individuals are suspected 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four coconspirators: Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali (Ammar al-Baluchi) and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi. Specifically, they are charged with eight crimes: conspiracy, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, murder in violation of the law of war, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft, and terrorism. They are being tried in front of a military commission at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba, which is where the men have been detained since September 2006.” Truth-Out

While these men may be guilty of the crimes that they are charged with, it is important to review just what our government did to these men in an attempt to obtain actionable intelligence and to “sell” the Iraq war to the United States public and the world.  The torture techniques did not provide any substantial intelligence.

“Not only did torture violate domestic and international law but it also produced faulty intelligence that stymied counterterrorism operations. In addition to Abu Zubaydah and Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed gave false intelligence to interrogators. Mohammed knew Osama bin Laden very well. While in US custody, he was tortured to reveal the location of the al-Qaeda founder and leader. It did not work. The key piece to finding bin Laden’s location in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and his ultimate killing by US Navy SEALs, in cooperation with the CIA, was the identity of his courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. Mohammed knew that courier.

But when Mohammed was tortured, he “repeatedly misled” interrogators about the courier’s identity,” reported Scott Shane and Charlie Savage in The New York Times. Investigative blogger Marcy Wheeler, on May 3, 2011, pointed out that if Mohammed revealed the true identity of the courier, “Bush might have gotten OBL [Osama bin Laden] 8 years ago.” Mohammed also lied about bin Laden’s location, which hindered efforts to find the al-Qaeda founder.” Truth-Out

Now that the government is finally getting around to provide a judicial commission, just how does the fact that these defendants were severely tortured and mistreated during their detention at CIA black sites around the world, impact on the pending military commissions?

At the October pretrial hearings the defense teams argued that the court’s protective gag order does not allow them to fully discuss the allegations against their clients and to discuss the torture that was inflicted on these men by the United States government and/or its agents.

“The defense lawyers argued the protective order’s restrictions undermine US obligations under the Convention Against Torture and effectively “silence” the defendants from speaking out about the torture they experienced. They urged the judge, Army Col. James Pohl, to either drop the death penalty or dismiss the case. Pohl, however, seemed perplexed as to what he could do. Even if the protective order were eliminated, the information in question would still be classified and the lawyers forbidden from disclosing it to outside parties. That’s because the judge does not have the authority to declassify information – that power comes from the executive branch.” Adam Hudson

The judge at the Military Commission pretrial hearing did not rule on the motion concerning the defense team’s requests to allow for the full disclosure of the torture that their clients endured at the governments hands.  However, he did order that the government must turn over all records and correspondence between US authorities and the International Red Cross about the conditions at Guantanamo Bay which may disclose some of the illegal interrogations and mistreatment.

If evidence obtained through torture is not admissible in these Military commissions, how does the government intend on producing enough evidence to convict these defendants?  The answer to that question lies in the so-called Clean Teams sent in to re-interrogate the defendants after the torture was stopped.  The Government claims that any information obtained after the torture was halted is unrelated to the previous years of torture and severe interrogation methods.

“Evidence obtained through torture is not allowed in the military commission. However, coerced evidence is permitted. In late 2006, FBI and military interrogators, known as the “clean team,” interrogated the five suspects to collect “virtually the same information the CIA had obtained” from them during their years in CIA black sites, according to a February 2008 Washington Post report. The goal was to collect statements that were “clean” from torture. “To ensure that the data would not be tainted by allegations of torture or illegal coercion, the FBI and military team won the suspects’ trust during the past 16 months by using time-tested rapport-building techniques,” the Post reported. The government is using these statements as evidence in the 9/11 case.

However, Bormann challenged the “clean team” statements’ validity on “60 Minutes.” “It’s like Alice going down the rabbit hole, right,” Bormann saidd. “You torture them for three years. You keep them in captivity after you stopped torturing them, in a place like Guantanamo Bay. And then you send in agents from the same government that tortured them for three years to take statements. And then, if you’re Gen. Martins, you say, ‘Well those are now clean.’ Guess what? They’re not.” ‘ Adam Hudson

It is interesting that the prosecution believes that the Clean Team approach can absolve the government’s significant and long-term abuse of these defendants.  The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree doctrine means nothing to the government.  If evidence was obtained through illegal means, including coerced interrogations, that evidence cannot be used in a criminal trial against the defendant.  While this doctrine is settled law, the government is attempting to circumvent it and hide the torture from the court and the public.

The bottom line is that the government tortured the defendants and is attempting to hide its culpability in that torture.  If the so-called Clean Team approach was as successful as the FBI claims, it seems obvious that the torture was not only illegal, but unnecessary.  How should Judge Pohl rule on the motion to allow defense teams to discuss and argue the torture used on their client?

If the attorneys cannot present evidence that evidence was obtained illegally, how can this Military Commission ever be considered to be legitimate?  Can any government sponsored judicial system be fair if defendants are not allowed to view the evidence that the prosecution is using to put them on trial for their lives?  Should these defendants be tried in a Criminal courtroom in the United States?  What do you think?

Additional sources: 60 Minutes video.

33 thoughts on “Kangaroo Commissions and Torture

  1. As usual, the most important question in this and similar status quo defenders/limited hangouters/gatekeeper writers failed to ask, let alone, attempt to answer is: what’s the purpose of tortuiing those men?

    IMO, the answer is very obvious: to prevent Joe Sixpack and self-declared liberals from learning the truth — because once you learn about gov’t black operations/hoaxes such as 9/11, you’ll see that they’ve lied to you about
    the JFK assassination conspiracy, Apollo Moon landings hoaxes, Gulf of Tonkin, 9/11, killing the long-dead Osama (dea since 12/2001) etc.

  2. Probably the primary reason the Founding Fathers (based on centuries of Old English law) mandated “speedy” trials and speedy justice was: destruction of evidence.

    Memories fade, records are lost, etc. while the Executive Branch agencies and prosecutors can exploit this obstruction of justice in their favor.

    On national television, the Department of Justice has promised a guilty verdict “prior” to an actual trial – in other words evidence and testimony don’t matter.

    For example: How can anyone accused of anything (foreign or American) today subpoena a witness in their favor? The prosecutor can ask them to testify under penalty of perjury as to what they were doing on any given day over a decade ago, while withholding exculpatory evidence in their favor. Phone and email providers typically only keep records for 3-7 years depending on the company, those records have essentially been destroyed by the DOJ and DOD.

  3. Raff,

    Excellent…. I was reading about this as well ….. It’s crazy…. Also should be noted…. The attorney conferences are listened to…. No private communication…. A smoke detector was really a bug…..Really…. And the kicker…. At a proceeding…. The courtroom has a red light that goes off when an exempt matter is touched upon…. The judge has the control knob…switch…. But during a hearing… It kept going off…. It was not the judge….. It was traced back to guess who….. The CIA in Virginia….. Bugging the courtroom….too….

  4. One must not overlook what BarkinDog often brought up on this blog when the Dogalogue Machine was still functioning. The 1933 Parallels. On 9/11 we have a “terrorist” attack on the Twin Towers, Pentagon and there is an immediate outcry and thence we get The Patriot Act. Back in 1933 in Berlin the German Parliament, i.e. The Reichstag was burned to the ground. The Nazis and others in power including President von Hindenburg, declared that was done by Communists and that measures were needed. President von Hindenburg issued The Reichstag Fire Decree. Human rights, civil rights, the Constitution, were all suspended. Later Goerring admitted to his captors that he entered the Reichstag building from an underground tunnel and set the fire himself. The Reichstag Fire Decree resulted in the Holocaust. Certain parallels here are obvious. Who is our Goering and who is our Hindenburg? Who in the NSA came round to the dogpac office at the marina and destroyed the Dogalogue Machine so that BarkinDog can not speak to the masses?

  5. AY,
    Thanks. I read the article talking about the red light incident or I saw it on the Sixty Minutes episode. Very scary.

  6. An unpopular reminder: What if they are innocent? There may be evidence of incitement (hating us or advocating violence) – if that were the case they would probably be released for time served.

    Trials weigh and try the evidence to determine guilt or innocence. We have the “Plamegate” folks (movie: Fair Game) that lied to us already, rendering the guilty verdict without a trial or evidence. Some of the Plamegate folks were involved in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War.

    Why are Americans so trusting after Plamegate and Scooter Libby (convicted of a felony)? The Guantanamo prosecutor says it harms our troops.

    Why should we trust them?

  7. Nice work Mr. Rafferty.

    This story needs as much exposure as is possible (preferably the front cover of the US’s most prominent daily rags). It is of great importance to expose the many hypocrisies of the US it’s client states and the military commissions Kangaroo courts that are busy destroying the lives of many innocent men, women and children while seeking to replacing justice with vengeance.

    FYI Gulag GTMO is only one of the known black sites comprising the US gulag archipelago.

    The other known ignoble US gulags:

    An estimated 50 prisons have been used to hold detainees in 28 countries, in addition to at least 25 more prisons in Afghanistan and 20 in Iraq. It is estimated that the U.S. has also used 17 ships as floating prisons since 2001, bringing the total estimated number of prisons operated by the U.S. and/or its allies to house alleged terrorist suspects since 2001 to more than 100.

    Countries that held suspects on behalf of the U.S. include Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Libya, Lithuania, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Somalia, South Africa, Thailand, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zambia.[36]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_site

    The folks rendered into the US gulag archipelago are entitled to open trials where the evidence used to detain, imprison and possibly send them to deaths may be examined and challenged in court, in the light of day not secret/unreviewable postulations put forth by the US government.

  8. What is most shocking is – we never learn the lessons of history. McCarthyism, CoinTelPro, Internment of U.S. Citizens of Japanese descent, eugenics murder experiments of African-Americans, Guantanamo, torture, etc.

    Why have history at all if we keep repeating the same tyranny, why can’t we learn from history? Today we have stood by while many innocent people have been destroyed or killed.

    It violates both American and Judeo-Christian values but Americans are largely silent and apathetic.

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