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.
What makes Mr. Mohamed’s case particularly galling (as if genital slicing was not enough) is that he has been released without ever being charged either by the British or the U.S.
Mr. Mohamed is one of seven British subjects who are suing their government for its complicity in torture. This new information came from a summary that a judge wrote after reviewing intelligence reports from the United States.
Here are the seven paragraphs, from the Guardian:
It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2002 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer.
v) It was reported that at some stage during that further interview process by the United States authorities, BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed.
vi) It was reported that combined with the sleep deprivation, threats and inducements were made to him. His fears of being removed from United States custody and "disappearing" were played upon.
vii) It was reported that the stress brought about by these deliberate tactics was increased by him being shackled in his interviews
viii) It was clear not only from the reports of the content of the interviews but also from the report that he was being kept under self-harm observation, that the interviews were having a marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.
ix) We regret to have to conclude that the reports provide to the SyS [security services] made clear to anyone reading them that BM was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.
x) The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972. Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities.
Reading these paragraphs it is pretty clear why the British and the U.S. government wanted to keep them secret. There are at three big factors here; first that the U.S. was in charge of the questioning. Second that the British were well aware of it, and finally that at least one Judge sees this as meeting the standard of torture under both the Geneva Convention and the International Conventions Against Torture.
This is a very big deal. Even if Attorney General Holder is willing to stonewall full investigations of torture, in contravention of our laws, the British Courts are not. The connection between the British activities and the U.S. activities give us a window into what happened to many prisoners not just the so-called “high value” prisoners.
It dovetails nicely with what we have seen the Republican view of torture to be. Any prisoner taken into custody for any accusation of terrorism is potentially subject to torture. If you think this is a reach, think about the calls for the Fruit of the Boom Bomber, Mr. Abdulmutallab. The whole push to have him put in military custody is based on the idea that he could be more harshly interrogated, which is, of course, code for torture.
This is just one more dip in the slow stream of the truth coming out. It makes the case Mr. Mohamed and his co-plaintiffs are bringing against the British government that much stronger. If they are successful in proving the British complicity in U.S. torture of prisoners, it further erodes the spurious “looking forward” reasoning of the President and the DoJ in regards to the Bush era torture program.
This whole situation makes me incredibly angry. Think about what Mr. Mohamed has gone through. He was arrested, held for seven years by a series of four different nations, beaten, sleep deprived, had his genitals sliced, and then was released without ever being charged by either the U.S. or his own government with any crime. This is what unreasoning fear and a desire to be tough has brought us to, this is what the nation that wants to be the “Shining city on the hill” has become, a nation that will not only orchestrate this kind of atrocity, but will not own up to it.
This is another drip. It will not be the last. The truth will come out. In the end the United States will have to decide if it is a nation of laws or if the powerful really can do as they like because they are powerful. Hopefully we will redeem our national honor and pride, but as of today, we have not.
The floor is yours.
"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"