Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Another day, another detainee sues, alleging torture

Attorneys representing Binyam Mohammed, held without charge at Guantanamo since 2002 and accused of being a suspected al Qaeda co-conspirator, have filed suit against the British government. The suit charges that the British government would violate its own foreign policy by permitting a former resident to face war crimes trial here with evidence allegedly obtained via torture.
Pentagon officials have not yet charged Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohammed, 29, with war crimes. In the last, aborted U.S. effort to stage military commissions, he was accused of planning to explode a radioactive ''dirty bomb'' in New York City.

The suit seeks to extract from the British government any secret intelligence that the two war on terror allies may have exchanged in the case in a bid to prove any trial would be tainted by torture.

Pakistani security forces arrested Mohammed at the Karachi airport in April 2002. From there, his lawyers claim, he disappeared into a secret network of U.S. supported prisons -- including 18 months in Morocco between 2002 and 2004.

There, according to an affidavit his London lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, filed at the U.S. Supreme Court, he confessed under torture to crimes he never committed.

''The torture included shackling, being suspended from walls and ceilings, brutal beatings and being cut all over his body with a scalpel, including his genitals,'' according to the 21-page petition filed Tuesday at the British High Court of Justice.

"Unsurprisingly, the claimant co-operated to avoid further torture.''

The squatter occupying the oval insists, of course, that the United States does not engage in torture. We use enhanced interrogation techniques, but those are not torture...(Yes, this is definite hair splitting, but what are you? A commie terrorist lover? Nine-Eleven changed everything!)

Under the laws regulating military commissions, evidence obtained via coercion might be admissible, if the judge hearing the case deems it necessary, but evidence gathered by using torture is not, because torture violates United States and international law. The responsibility for determining where that line lays will be up to each individual judge hearing cases once the tribunals get underway.

Tribunals like the ones the Bush administration has set up have not been used by this country since the end of WW II, and other nations, including our closest ally Britain, have called the commissions "kangaroo courts." Last year, the Brits specifically requested the release of Mohammed from captivity in Guantanamo, but their subject remains confined. Now, his attorneys are convinced that he will finally be charged as the Pentagon prosecutor revisits old cases that were earlier halted by the Supreme Court.

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