US Government Says CIA Black Site Prisoners' Memory Of Their Own Torture Is Classified And Cannot Be Revealed (Techdirt)
Tuesday November 19th, 2013
I'd missed this story when it came out a few weeks ago, but thanks to Rob Hyndman for calling it to my attention. There was plenty of press around the fact that one of the guys being held by US forces in Guantanamo, and who faces trial as one of the co-conspirators for 9/11, supposedly sustained head injuries while being held by the CIA. But, that's just the tip of the iceberg of the story. Apparently Ammar al Baluchi, and some of the other prisoners are trying to argue that the US violated the UN Convention Against Torture with how they treated prisoners at the infamous black sites. But here's the crazy part: the US is arguing that the prisoners' own recollections of what was done to them cannot be used in court, because it would reveal classified information. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Yes, the US government is arguing that it can torture people (though, of course, it won't call it that), but if you try to call them on it via various courts, domestic or international, the very people who were tortured are not allowed to present evidence of their own torture, because it would reveal classified information. Classified information like how the CIA tortured people. Now, the people in this case may be very bad people, who really were involved in planning 9/11, and if that's true and proven as such, I have no problem with them being punished for their actions. But that doesn't excuse torturing them, no matter what some misguided authoritarians believe. And, furthermore, if the government is going to torture them, then they should at least have the balls to stand up in court and discuss what they did and why -- not telling the people they tortured that their own recollections of how they were tortured are considered classified material.
In the al Baluchi case, his lawyer has been using unclassified medical records to try to show that he was tortured, but remains barred from using anything beyond that.
Attorney James Connell invoked two of Baluchi’s unclassified Guantanamo medical records in a bid to argue that not everything the captives say about their treatment at the CIA’s overseas prison network from 2002 to 2006 constitutes national security secrets. Another (military) lawyer representing some of the accused notes how ridiculous the situation is:
At issue is the 9/11 defense attorneys’ challenge of a military commissions protective order that, the defenders say, oblige the attorneys to make sure the prisoners don’t tell foreign courts or human rights groups their memories of what the CIA did to them during the years before they were brought here in 2006.
“You cannot use state secrets to classify the observations and experiences of someone who was exposed to torture,” said Army Maj. Jason Wright, Mohammed’s defense attorney, arguing that the U.S. government was using a classification regime to hide what the CIA did to the men in secret overseas prisons, out of reach of U.S. courts and the International Red Cross, from 2002 until 2006. And yet that's exactly what the government is trying to do.