This really eery piece of news was in yesterday’s WaPo:
- An interagency review of all cases at Guantanamo Bay concluded that about 50 prisoners will have to be held in some form of prolonged detention without trial, because the evidence against them was obtained through the use of harsh interrogation methods or because its revelation in court would compromise intelligence gathering. The government says the detainees are too dangerous to release.
Let’s deconstruct this so everyone can see what’s been happening here:
- 1. The U.S. authorities use “harsh interrogation methods” against someone held in their custody.
2. They claim they have “reason to believe” that this person is “too dangerous to release”– but refuse to make their evidence for this public.
3. Here’s the kicker: Precisely because this individual was tortured, and may reveal details of his torture if brought into any open courtoom, no public court hearing can ever be held for this person.
(4. If the person had not been tortured, he might well have been brought into a courtroom.)
In other words, these 50 individuals who have been tortured by the U.S. authorities or people acting on their behalf now have to suffer the additional punishment of being detained indefinitely– precisely because they were tortured.
(If the only “problem” about trying them would be because disclosing the evidence against them could compromise collection methods, there would certainly be ways of dealing with that, including through private lawyers’ conferences, etc. Therefore I conclude that the fact of prior torture is an issue in all these cases, with or without the applicability of “intel collection methods” concerns.)
I realize that all this is a legacy from the Bush years of operating outside the law. But Obama promised us all something different.
If these people were tortured, then surely we all– U.S. citizens and others– need to have the full facts about this disclosed in an open courtroom. That way, we Americans can understand fully what was done in our name. And we can take all the steps necessary to ensuring our government never does it again.
And as six billion non-Americans around the world will see us disclosing the truth about these matters in an open, constitutional way, they will think the better of us for it– just as, when the South African authorities disclosed the whole truth about the ghastly deeds done by a predecessor regime there, people thought the better of them for it.