The monstrous case of Binyam Mohamed

Torture

This is a story that deserves to be known to every American. From Greenwald:

… first, the U.S. abducted [Binyam] Mohamed and refused to provide him with any access to lawyers or the outside world.  Then — with no due process afforded — we shipped him around for the next couple of years to various countries that are the most notorious practitioners of torture, where agents of those countries and the CIA jointly conducted interrogations by brutally torturing him.  Then, once he was broken beyond the point of return, we shipped him off to Guantanamo.

After six years in detention, we finally charged him with crimes in a Guantanamo military commission — based on confessions we extracted from him — but refused to provide him with the exculpatory evidence showing that those confessions were extracted by torture, even though, as the High Court noted:

“For several centuries the common law has excluded evidence obtained by torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; it cannot be used to secure a conviction.

We then threatened Britain that they had better keep the facts surrounding the torture concealed from the world or else we would no longer notify them of terrorist threats aimed at them.  And finally, when Mohamed sued in American courts over the rendition and torture he suffered, the U.S. Government — first the Bush administration and then the Obama administration — insisted that courts must not allow him a day in court because any discussion of what was done to him was a “state secret” and any disclosure at all would harm national security.

Read Greenwald’s post for the more detailed version of this story, and think about what’s being excused when people talk about  the need to “move on” and “look to the future rather than the past.” The Bush government commited atrocious crimes against many of the people they detained, and it was wrong and immoral whether or not their victims were guilty. Even now, the new Obama administration is becoming an accessory to these crimes, not by continuing them, but by excusing them.

Under domestic and international law, we are required to prosecute Bush officials for their role in a plainly illegal torture program. We have prosecuted leaders of other countries under these very same laws. Not holding our own officials accountable proves that we are indeed a rogue state, and lays the foundation for future violation of fundamental human rights.

8 Comments

  1. Ian

    This is a pretty typical story about the Guantanomo detainees. It will be a good day when it is closed. I think its an exercise in hyperbole though to call Obama an accessory to the crimes. You have to be crazy to think it would be feasible to try Bush anyways. Just imagine the cost in legal fees it would take to try a President in court, and keep in mind that a Republican President would probably pardon him anyways. Obama needs to ensure what Bush did never happens again and not waste time and resources on a misguided quest for vengeance. The only way Bush gets tried in court is if he turned himself over to an international court, which isn’t going to happen.

  2. Sheepywoman

    This may sound irrelevant, but I’d like to know what the rest of the world would like for us to do. Since Obama wants to improve our world standing, this could be used as a motivating factor to resolve the stated issues.

  3. Chris

    Ian,
    But it’s not just about closing Gitmo. We need to make sure we aren’t doing this anywhere. And if Obama continues treating these people the same way Bush did, and never seeks accountability, how can he be anything other than accessory? Obama got handed a crappy situation, but he has to fix it or become complicit.

    Complaining about legal fees is a weak excuse for letting Bush off the hook, the same goes for the possibility of a pardon. Criminal proceedings against Blago will soon commence and he’s a governor who is excused of committing a far less heinous crime. Heads of state have been tried at the ICC, at Nuremburg, in Israel, etc. Do you honestly think money should be an issue when our government just cut a check for nearly a trillion dollars? It’d likely cost less than half a day of us staying in Iraq. And if a conviction occurred and a pardon did come (from a different administration) at least we could say we tried to atone for the crimes our country has committed.

  4. Ian

    If you think prosecuting Blago is anything compared to what it would be like to prosecute Bush you are nuts. This is about more than just the millions upon millions that would go into chasing after Bush and all of his underlings. This is about how its going to take years to get it done all the way since there would be appeals like mad if he actually got convicted. The media would focus almost entirely on the trial and would ignore everything else going on in the world. Republicans would never work with Obama. The country would become even more polarized between right and left and those in the center would shift to the right out of sympathy for Bush. If Bush was pardoned, it would have all been for nothing. Nothing. He didn’t care about public approval when he was in office. Why should he care if he were shamed like this? I’m not saying he shouldn’t be brought to justice, but you have to recognize how we live in a country with two justice systems: one for the rich and the powerful, and one for the rest of us. You have to face it just isn’t going to happen with Bush. If you want Obama to do anything, how about he makes it so someone like Bush can’t do this in the future? How about he makes it so we can speedily and fairly try a rich person in this country without sending a bill for millions to the taxpayer?

  5. Chris

    If you think prosecuting Blago is anything compared to what it would be like to prosecute Bush you are nuts.

    On the issue of torture, I don’t think it’d be that hard. Top level officials, including Bush and Cheney, have admitted they authorized waterboarding.

    This is about how its going to take years to get it done all the way since there would be appeals like mad if he actually got convicted.

    It wouldn’t necessarily be quick, but that shouldn’t be a barrier to justice for the country and for the victims.

    The media would focus almost entirely on the trial and would ignore everything else going on in the world. Republicans would never work with Obama.

    It would be a political distraction, and that’s why it would need to be conducted by an independent group. And Republicans aren’t working with Obama now, so that’s not an issue.

    If Bush was pardoned, it would have all been for nothing. Nothing.

    He’d be forever tarred as a criminal. A pardon didn’t resurrect the legacy of Nixon.

    you have to recognize how we live in a country with two justice systems: one for the rich and the powerful, and one for the rest of us.

    That will certainly be the case if we let Bush get away with it.

    If you want Obama to do anything, how about he makes it so someone like Bush can’t do this in the future?

    Facing prison would certainly be a deterrent don’t you think?

  6. Ian

    “That will certainly be the case if we let Bush get away with it.”

    Trying Bush in court wouldn’t change what is fundamentally wrong with our justice system, and get real about the prison thing. What kind of prison do you think Bush would actually end up staying in?

    “A pardon didn’t resurrect the legacy of Nixon.”

    But Nixon lived out the rest of his days a free man. He cared what people thought of him and it bothered him that Watergate overshadowed all of his other achievements. Nixon did a lot of good things and he had a lot more to lose than Bush. Bush obviously doesn’t care a whole lot about his legacy.

    “It wouldn’t necessarily be quick, but that shouldn’t be a barrier to justice for the country and for the victims.”

    I’d say its arguable, but it is definitely justification for making changes to how our justice system works.

    There is a quote from that article you posted about the F-22 the other day that went something along the lines of “War is not fair”. When you cite people like those tried at Nuremberg, you are talking about the losers in a given conflict. These people probably would have never seen court had Germany won WWII. What is written in the history books and what is deemed right and wrong is often decided by the victor or the one with the most power. That’s just how it is. Bush won’t be tried. It doesn’t matter what he did. Let’s move on already and focus on making sure something like the Bush administration never happens again.

  7. Chris

    Trying Bush in court wouldn’t change what is fundamentally wrong with our justice system

    And not trying him helps?

    But Nixon lived out the rest of his days a free man.

    I would like to have at least tried. Whether he gets pardoned isn’t really the issue. Our country should be down on record as having condemned his behavior.

  8. Ian

    “And not trying him helps?”

    It unrelated. Trying Bush doesn’t change the system.

    “Our country should be down on record as having condemned his behavior.”

    What are we, the UN?