Torture, Then Execution…

by on February 11, 2008 · 1 comment

in Civil Rights

From the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)

Today Military commission charges were handed down that seek the death penalty against CCR’s client Guantánamo detainee Mohammed al Qahtani.

No military commission against Mr. Al Qahtani will ever achieve justice. Instead, it will deteriorate into a controversy over secret trials and the United States’ well-documented torture of Mr. al Qahtani during interrogations at Guantánamo.

Read more about Al Qahtani’s Torture

For the past six years, the United States government has refused to conduct traditional criminal trials or courts martial against Guantanamo detainees suspected of wrongdoing.

Instead, the military commissions at Guantanamo allow secret evidence, hearsay evidence, and evidence obtained through torture. They are unlawful, unconstitutional, and a perversion of justice.

Read more about military commissions

Now the government is seeking to execute people based on this utterly unreliable and tainted evidence: it is difficult to imagine a more morally reprehensible system. Executions based on secret trials and torture evidence belong to another century. These barbaric sham proceedings will likely to inflame the controversy surrounding Guantanamo and draw the condemnation of even our allies.

Career military officers have already resigned because they could not stomach participating in a military commission system that goes against every principle of justice, due process and the rule of law. In particular, they were opposed to precisely the kinds of issues that will be the focus of Mr. al Qahtani’s commission – the United States’ use of torture and subsequent efforts to hide the criminal conduct of U.S. personnel.

Mr. al Qahtani may be the one charged today, but it is the illegality of his interrogation under torture that will be tried in the commission. Regardless of the results, no one will ever have confidence in the outcome of these military commissions.

Read more about military comissions

The United States has nothing legitimate to gain from prosecuting prisoners in military commissions at Guantanamo and a great deal to lose.

What kind of a nation have we become that we would rely on torture evidence, secret trials and an untested and deeply flawed system to impose the death penalty?

Our nation must abandon the failed experiment at Guantanamo. If the administration believes Mr. Al Qahtani has committed a crime, he should be charged and tried in a lawful proceeding worthy of our country.

Sincerely,

Vincent Warren
Executive Director

Center for Constitutional Rights

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

avatar Charles Letterman February 12, 2008 at 9:34 am

I am far from being a libertarian. I believe prisons should be hard places where punishment and reform are being dished out in equal measure. I believe life should mean life. However, I also believe in fair trials and that torture, in whatever form, has no place in civilised society.

At the same time as US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff promises a fair trial for Guantanamo prisoners accused of organising the 9/11 attacks, the CIA admits torture in the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. No words of mine can express the horror of 9/11, but by committing acts of torture, the US authorities have sunk as low as the barbarians who plotted and carried out the attack on New York.

And Michael Chertoff’s definition of a ‘fair trial’ is interesting. A conviction can be gained by a two-thirds vote, not unanimity as in a US jury trial. The jury is made up of military officers not members of the public. The ‘evidence’, including hearsay and some obtained by coercion, will be allowed, “if the military judge determines that the evidence would have probative value to a reasonable person”.

And some evidence will be not released to the accused or his representatives if it is deemed to contain classified information. Neither is the accused protected by the Geneva conventions. Groups like Amnesty International, who would release the most fairly convicted paedophile back into the playground with a slap on the wrist and bag of sweets, are quite rightly having a field day with this blatant infringement of human rights.

Someone will be found guilty for 9/11. The US demands it, and will be extremely selective in both its morals and laws as to how that guilt and punishment is apportioned.

http://www.charlesletterman.com

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