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Six Guantanamo prisoners charged.
February 12, 2008 4:47 AM   Subscribe

Several prisoners held at Guantanamo are charged, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. According to this soundbite, after their time in military court, they'll be able to appeal the decision in civilian court.
posted by ®@ (77 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
It'll be the OJ trial, but on steroids.
posted by triv at 5:00 AM on February 12, 2008


My big concern is that regardless of the result, no one will believe it (I resisted the urge to add "showtrial?" as a tag). They've already admitted to using waterboarding on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others, not that I think it's changed his story.

Expect to here more "I'm glad we torture terrorists" sentiment from your hawkish friends in the next few years.
posted by ®@ at 5:12 AM on February 12, 2008


History will not be kind.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:23 AM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


not that I think it's changed his story.

...Because you are a world-renowned expert on the workings of the terrorist mind when subjected to wimpy pseudo-torture techniques. Surely his story would have changed had we dipped his toes in boiling oil.
posted by Horken Bazooka at 5:30 AM on February 12, 2008


It'll be the OJ trial, but on steroids.

Well, the government has been pretty successful convicting 'terrorists' on very flimsy evidence in the past.

Expect to here more "I'm glad we torture terrorists" sentiment from your hawkish friends in the next few years.

I really don't expect it to continue much into 2009. But I wonder what the next president is going to do with all these people. And with the people who tortured them. If I were running for president I'd ship everyone involved in this mess off the the Hauge or somewhere for them to be charged with war crimes. Unfortunately we can't charge them with breaking any U.S. laws because of the idiotic immunity law that the democrats agreed to right before the 2006 election.
posted by delmoi at 5:36 AM on February 12, 2008


geez, so they finally bother to charge a few of the hundreds of prisoners held completely illegally.

No doubt the cases will be based entirely on confessions that were produced via duibious methods from the prisoners over the years and backed up by "evidence too senstive to be allowed into the public domain".

Hopefully, history will not be kind to this two faced US terrorist organisation they call a 'government'.
posted by mary8nne at 5:44 AM on February 12, 2008


hmm.... Moscow Trials anyone?
posted by mary8nne at 5:55 AM on February 12, 2008


Well, this ought to please nobody.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:58 AM on February 12, 2008


One would almost suspect that an election were coming up!
posted by DU at 5:59 AM on February 12, 2008



In other news... its really fucking cold outside.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 6:04 AM on February 12, 2008


If the Sheikh has been hit, you must acquit!
posted by Flashman at 6:04 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Didn't Khaled 'confess' to plotting to blow up a building that didn't exist when he was incarcerated? A shopping center in Seattle or something like that?

If I were his lawyer, I think I'd be hammering on that pretty hard.
posted by Malor at 6:18 AM on February 12, 2008


I wait patiently for the Mefi post announcing war crime charges for all sorts of high ranking US officials.
posted by chunking express at 6:42 AM on February 12, 2008


So any running bets on when the verdicts will be announced? What are the odds on November?
posted by PenDevil at 6:50 AM on February 12, 2008


Perhaps the most absurd thing about this "trial" is that the government will be allowed to put on evidence of how they "un-tortured" several of the suspects, using an FBI "clean team" to get the same confessions from them without torture that the CIA had earlier gotten in secret CIA prisons (using torture "enhanced interrogation techniques"). The Washington Post article about this absurdity is here and Karen Tumulty blogs about it for Time here. Her pull quote is awesome:

To ensure that the data would not be tainted by allegations of torture or illegal coercion, the FBI and military team won the suspects' trust over the past 16 months by using time-tested rapport-building techniques, the officials said.

And what were these techniques? According to WaPo, the prisoners "were given food whenever they were hungry as well as Starbucks coffee". CONFESS!
posted by The Bellman at 7:19 AM on February 12, 2008


First we kidnap them, then we torture them, then we kill them.

Remember when we used to claim moral superiority?
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:37 AM on February 12, 2008


1. "trail?"

2. This is pretty much Bush's last favor for the GOP in the election, making a huge story about terrorism and satiating post-9/11 bloodlust just in time for Mr. "Let's Be in Iraq for 100 Years" to take center stage.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:40 AM on February 12, 2008


Showtrial, yes. On the other hand, I'm not sure it's such a good idea to give these guys a free plane ride back to Pakistan and say "Sorry for the torturing, but you guys should leave us alone now!"
posted by mattbucher at 7:42 AM on February 12, 2008


PenDevil : So any running bets on when the verdicts will be announced? What are the odds on November?

Nope. That would give them a chance to botch the verdict before the election.

"were given food whenever they were hungry as well as Starbucks coffee"
For some reason this line in the Post story really bothered me; it seemed out-of-place and almost like an afterthought added for damage control for the administration. Why should I care what goddamned brand of coffee they get? Gee, we give them brand name coffee and don't torture them by withholding food so we're obviously treating them pretty swell. And the FBI vs. CIA interrogations are just "good cop/bad cop" writ large.
posted by Challahtronix at 7:58 AM on February 12, 2008


On the other hand, I'm not sure it's such a good idea to give these guys a free plane ride back to Pakistan and say "Sorry for the torturing, but you guys should leave us alone now!"

So you propose an unmarked grave, then, and a press release saying they died of heart failure in their cells?

There isn't a good solution after all this; if not shown to be guilty, they really should be released with an apology and financial compensation, even if they're now (expectedly) implacably hostile to the U.S.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:59 AM on February 12, 2008


I'm a bit confused about the reaction to this.

Even if one holds the view that the military's enemy combatant anaylsis was wrong, would it still not be a good thing that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is being charged and will stand for conviction for his crimes? In other words, no one believes this guy to be innocent, do they?

The enemy combatant issue is a nuanced legal issue that is not nearly as clean cut as so many people try to argue when they gloss over it. The torture issue is more clear cut and more easily subjected to moral as well as legal analysis. One can be adamant that the military got both of these issues dead wrong. But wouldn't anyone be happy that this guy will face criminal punishment? Isn't this good news? By claiming this is just a political show trial, one is making the implicit argument that a trial against KSM has no merit.
posted by dios at 8:21 AM on February 12, 2008


So you propose an unmarked grave, then, and a press release saying they died of heart failure in their cells?

No, I propose a fair trial, but that's damn near impossible after they've been illegally detained for six years. If the government has corroborating evidence to back up the charges (PDF) they've claimed, then I do think it's likely the defendants will be convicted. Reading the charges does give me pause because they are claiming that these guys were not just random pawns picked up "on the field of battle" but that they were directly involved with planning the destruction of the world trade center. I think Gitmo is one of the worst black marks on the reputation and history of human rights and the reputation of the United States, but I'm not sure that alone gives the prisoners thereof free passes to freedom.
posted by mattbucher at 8:27 AM on February 12, 2008


would it still not be a good thing that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is being charged and will stand for conviction for his crimes?

This is a show trial, so far removed from any sense of real justice that it's being handled by the military and not a legitimate court, where there is an attempt to whitewash the fact that the suspect was tortured. Why should anyone be happy about it?
posted by graymouser at 8:28 AM on February 12, 2008


The problem is that by behaving in the manner of the sorts of dictatorships that we all grew up being told were the enemy- what with disappearing people, torturing them, and now working toward executing them, and in many cases people against whom the evidence is either flimsy or even nonexistent (there's several people who are currently being held not because they're guilty of anything but because if we release them, the military's convinced that they'll be so angry over their imprisonment that they'll become terrorists)- we've essentially given up any claim to the moral superiority necessary to hold trials, carry out sentences, and the like. I think that the ends justify the means a lot more than most people, but there are some means that simply cannot be justified.

Sure, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to face justice for his crimes, and sure, that's a good thing. But what price are we willing to pay for it?

If I can quote from A Man For All Seasons:
Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law.

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that.

More: Oh? And when the law was down--and the Devil turned round on you--where would you hide? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.
I know you're a big fan of man's inhumanity to man, dios, but at least try to have a sense for what's happening.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:29 AM on February 12, 2008 [10 favorites]


In other words, no one believes this guy to be innocent, do they?

Mob rule pokes Lady Justice in the eyes to drop her scales.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:38 AM on February 12, 2008


I know you're a big fan of man's inhumanity to man, dios, but at least try to have a sense for what's happening.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:29 AM on February 12
note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.
You seem wholly unable to discuss any topic without going to the extremes and cast personal aspersions, and until you exhibit the capacity to have respectful discussion, do not expect any reply from me, from here on.
posted by dios at 8:39 AM on February 12, 2008


would it still not be a good thing that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is being charged and will stand for conviction for his crimes? In other words, no one believes this guy to be innocent, do they?

Personally I'd prefer to see the US punished for its collective crimes against humanity than a guy that may have killed a handful of Americans...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaragua_v._United_States
posted by mary8nne at 8:41 AM on February 12, 2008


No, I propose a fair trial, but that's damn near impossible after they've been illegally detained for six years.

If they cannot get a fair trial, then they should be released. This is the bedrock of the American legal system; it's the only morally just thing to do; it might be a deplorable outcome if they actually did plan 9/11, but the fault entirely and absolutely lies with the Bush government, who went out of their way any form of fair trial impossible.

I've lived in New York City for almost 25 years, so I take 9/11 personally. But the rule of law protects the guilty as well as the innocent -- precisely because otherwise it would protect no one at all.

On preview, Pope Guilty's quote nails it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:41 AM on February 12, 2008


Well, dios, I completely disagree with what you say as well, and I haven't said a word about you -- so address my points, please.

Why is the rule of law, the Constitution, all of these rendered meaningless? If we completely break our legal system so we have torture, show trials and executions, surely this is a complete loss for America? The United States Government has caused the criminal deaths of millions of people over the last 50 years, in South America, Asia and the Middle East -- if no one is called to justice for those murders, why are we so gung-ho to turn off all our Constitutional rights in order to execute a few criminal losers who've already been tortured for years?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:46 AM on February 12, 2008


No, I propose a fair trial, but that's damn near impossible after they've been illegally detained for six years.
posted by mattbucher at 10:27 AM on February 12


That's not entirely accurate. There are certainly procedural devices which will can lead to a fair trial irrespective to any pretrial considerations. Much of these procedural rules can be traced back to the Witch Trials in Europe. After re-discovering principles of Roman Law, those that engaged in the witch trials in Europe actually started creating procedural devices to ensure fair trials. Treaties such as the Malleus Maleficarum actually incorporated rules such as that no confession that was obtained during torture was valid or admissible in trial--conviction had to rely on other objective evidence (which, granted, was legally insufficient evidence such as the water test and tear test, etc). This is not to say anything was good or proper about the witch trials, but it is to point out that legal history since that time has developed and refined legal procedural devices which can ensure fair trials by using neutral principles.

As inappropriate as the military's retention actions can be perceived, they can still present a case based on evidence obtained other than anything obtained from KSM himself, and that would be a fair trial.
posted by dios at 8:46 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dios, you're arguing that the ends justify the means. Thats exactly what the Bush Administration has been carping for the last so many years. Really, the only moral thing to do would be to release the guy and accept the fact that our misbehavior created the circumstances that forced his release. In the Bush administration's rush to keep "democracy safe", they made the decision that the rules that underpin our system of government are only as sacred as they decide them to be. Basically, justice isn't justice if it isn't achieved in a just way.
posted by Atreides at 8:48 AM on February 12, 2008


Personally I'd prefer to see the US punished for its collective crimes against humanity than a guy that may have killed a handful of Americans...
posted by mary8nne at 10:41 AM on February 12


Bully for you. I appreciate you having the temerity to let us know where you stand.
posted by dios at 8:48 AM on February 12, 2008


here are certainly procedural devices which will can lead to a fair trial irrespective to any pretrial considerations. Much of these procedural rules can be traced back to the Witch Trials in Europe. After re-discovering principles of Roman Law, those that engaged in the witch trials in Europe actually started creating procedural devices to ensure fair trials. Treaties such as the Malleus Maleficarum actually incorporated rules such as that no confession that was obtained during torture was valid or admissible in trial--conviction had to rely on other objective evidence

hahaha, what
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:49 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


BTW, last post was in reference to prior posting by Dios.

As inappropriate as the military's retention actions can be perceived, they can still present a case based on evidence obtained other than anything obtained from KSM himself, and that would be a fair trial.

As long as that evidence was obtained legally and morally. Regardless, a fair trial when it came time to sentencing would need to take into account the circumstances surrounding KSM's detention and treatment.
posted by Atreides at 8:50 AM on February 12, 2008


Dios, you're arguing that the ends justify the means.

No I'm not at all. I am arguing that one can condemn the means and still find the ends just.

Really, the only moral thing to do would be to release the guy and accept the fact that our misbehavior created the circumstances that forced his release.

I am unaware of any definition of morality (and certainly no definition of justice) that would mandate such a result. Again, he can be tried in a fair trial irrespective of anything that was done to him previously. They can prove his guilt without using anything they obtained from him personally. If he can be proven objectively guilty based on evidence obtained from third parties, no definition of morality or justice would require he be turned free because of the actions at GITMO. Those at GITMO and in charge should be examined, but it does not follow that KSM should be free for the faults of his captors.

Basically, justice isn't justice if it isn't achieved in a just way.
posted by Atreides at 10:48 AM on February 12


That's just begging the question.

Why is the rule of law, the Constitution, all of these rendered meaningless? If we completely break our legal system so we have torture, show trials and executions, surely this is a complete loss for America?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:46 AM on February 12


Again, the legal principles at issue with respect to enemy combatants and access to the courts in the US is an extremely nuanced legal issue and far more complicated than you are willing to concede. It is not so that the "rule of law and the Constitution" are rendered meaningless. Torture: yes. That is a more straightforward legal issue that should be addressed. But jurisdictional issues are different are not clear. The issue of execution is different and does not "render meaningless" the Constitution.

You can call it a show trial, but that does not make it so. There can be a legally sufficient and Constitutionally satisfactory trial irrespective of what occurred at GITMO. They are separate issues from a justice standpoint. Conflating the two is a political view, not a legal one.
posted by dios at 8:58 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that a "Lawyer" so devoted to the Scripture of his Profession would so openly incite mob justice to condemn a man, a mob incited to that act of condemnation by a government run by known sociopaths, sadists and liars.

All the information we have about KSM comes from people who are liars and torturers — so leaving aside the larger question of whether the ethical and judicial consequences of mob violence are acceptable, the larger question is begged that the American mob is capably informed to condemn this man to death in the first place.

Still, in the end, America is land of ends justifying the means. Here, rationalization has become the Truth of Law.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:01 AM on February 12, 2008


Regardless, a fair trial when it came time to sentencing would need to take into account the circumstances surrounding KSM's detention and treatment.
posted by Atreides at 10:50 AM on February 12


Not at all. The issue at trial is whether the individual committed a crime. The issue of detention and treatment is irrelevant to any issue in that regard. To the extent is problematic, it is so from either political viewpoint or a separate legal issue with respect to the actions of the United States. Either way, it does not negate the possibility of a fair trial.

Take the most simplistic reduction of this: assume we have a video of someone who is clearly identifiable robbing a bank. If that same person has what KSM had done to him, and was finally put to trial, the trial would still be fair and the result just if his guilt was proven by the video. No definition of morality or justice would mandate a requirement that the robber walk because of the malfeasance of those who detained him.
posted by dios at 9:03 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


If KSM is guilty, why are we even wasting time with a trial?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:04 AM on February 12, 2008


Humans... **shaking head, backing away from keyboard**

Oooh, that reminds me it's lunchtime.

posted by not_on_display at 9:11 AM on February 12, 2008


Bush lays a Guantanamo trap for the next president
posted by homunculus at 9:13 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Again, the legal principles at issue with respect to enemy combatants and access to the courts in the US is an extremely nuanced legal issue and far more complicated than you are willing to concede.

Of course I believe it's nuanced -- but there's been no evidence whatsoever that the government believes that or even feels constrained by the rule of law.

Take the most simplistic reduction of this: assume we have a video of someone who is clearly identifiable robbing a bank.

Straw man of a particularly weak type. The question is, "Can these men get a fair trial?" A trial with absolutely conclusive evidence which lead to a conviction would be a fair trial.

The point is that there isn't any such evidence in the case at hand. The government wants to present evidence obtained through torture -- even worse, the government wants to admit confessions made after they broke the prisoner through torture, but where they weren't actually being tortured at that moment.

Returning to your bank robber, it's as if the police tortured him to get a confession, and then the next day he confessed again, without being tortured. If that's the only evidence they have, then he should walk -- particularly if the police won't actually show the video of the torture and simply report edited details of the confessions.....
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:14 AM on February 12, 2008


All the information we have about KSM comes from people who are liars and torturers.

What the fuck? Are you seriously saying this.
posted by mattbucher at 9:14 AM on February 12, 2008


In other words, no one believes this guy to be innocent, do they?

Let the show trials and cleansing begin!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:15 AM on February 12, 2008


...assume we have a video of someone who is clearly identifiable...

I thought torturers wore hoods for a reason.
posted by trondant at 9:18 AM on February 12, 2008


Have Clinton or Obama said that they will let the Guantanamo prisoners go free? If not, why aren't they being railed against for trampling all over the constitution also?
posted by mattbucher at 9:21 AM on February 12, 2008


A trial with absolutely conclusive evidence which lead to a conviction would be a fair trial.

The point is that there isn't any such evidence in the case at hand. The government wants to present evidence obtained through torture -- even worse, the government wants to admit confessions made after they broke the prisoner through torture, but where they weren't actually being tortured at that moment.


I'm not sure how you know this. The 9/11 Commission came to the conclusions it reached without relying on anything that occurred at GITMO. It had all the evidence years before KSM confessed to anything at GITMO.
posted by dios at 9:23 AM on February 12, 2008


dios writes "Even if one holds the view that the military's enemy combatant anaylsis was wrong, would it still not be a good thing that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is being charged and will stand for conviction for his crimes? In other words, no one believes this guy to be innocent, do they? "

Geez maybe we should come up with a way to determine this. We could even have a set of rules governing how investigations should be made. There probably should be a bunch of stuff about self incrimination and rights to a lawyer in there somewhere. It would probably be best if we assumed everyone was innocent until we have proof that they are guilty of something to cut down on the witch hunting.

dios writes "Take the most simplistic reduction of this: assume we have a video of someone who is clearly identifiable robbing a bank. If that same person has what KSM had done to him, and was finally put to trial, the trial would still be fair and the result just if his guilt was proven by the video. No definition of morality or justice would mandate a requirement that the robber walk because of the malfeasance of those who detained him."

Well one could argue that a fair trial may be impossible if the accused isn't able to competently assist in his defence because of how he was detained.
posted by Mitheral at 9:40 AM on February 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


What the fuck? Are you seriously saying this.

I don't know how else to answer this, but, yes, I haven't lived under a rock for the last eight years. Anyone who trusts anything the administration has to say at this point about KSM or anyone else they've tortured is a damned fool or a co-conspirator.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:46 AM on February 12, 2008


When you say "all the information" that implies not just legal evidence, but all known facts. As dios said above, I'm not sure how you know this. It implies a deep knowledge of the intelligence collected about these suspects for ten or fifteen years. It's telling that this whole discussion revolves not around the intricacies of the legal case, but GITMOSUXXORZ, AMIRITE?!
posted by mattbucher at 9:56 AM on February 12, 2008


It is unbelievable that dios still claims to be a lawyer, yet seems to misunderstand the very concept of guilt and innocence. Does anyone believe KSM is innocent? What does belief have to do with it? There is a specific reason we have trials at all, to ascertain guilt and innocence. Since a trial has not occurred, it should be self-evident that KSM is guilty of nothing, yet. He may have committed a crime, but has anything been proven? Dios has obviously seen enough evidence to be personally convinced that KSM is guilty - where is that evidence?
posted by odinsdream at 10:01 AM on February 12, 2008


There are certainly procedural devices which will can lead to a fair trial irrespective to any pretrial considerations... After re-discovering principles of Roman Law, those that engaged in the witch trials in Europe actually started creating procedural devices to ensure fair trials. Treaties such as the Malleus Maleficarum actually incorporated rules such as that no confession that was obtained during torture was valid or admissible in trial--conviction had to rely on other objective evidence.

Wait, are you actually holding up the Malleus Maleficarum as a progenitor of proper and fair trial law? THIS Malleus Maleficarum? How does that even make sense? Are you a bizarro lawyer working with un-logic?
posted by FatherDagon at 10:03 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wait, are you actually holding up the Malleus Maleficarum as a progenitor of proper and fair trial law? THIS Malleus Maleficarum? How does that even make sense? Are you a bizarro lawyer working with un-logic?

There comes a point at which you stop trying to argue with dios and just start laughing at him.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:06 AM on February 12, 2008


“No doubt the cases will be based entirely on confessions that were produced via dubious methods from the prisoners over the years and backed up by "evidence too sensitive to be allowed into the public domain".”

Just so. And I can’t say I care for their chances given the “trial” and conviction of Jose Padilla.

“On the other hand, I'm not sure it's such a good idea to give these guys a free plane ride back to Pakistan and say "Sorry for the torturing, but you guys should leave us alone now!”

I think prosecution of those responsible for torturing them would go a long way towards rebuilding trust. I don’t believe these people exist in a vacuum. Nor are they themselves a threat without support.

Somewhere they have brothers, cousins, friends, who are probably rather upset that their loved ones have been spirited away and abused.
Those people remain a threat whether the individuals in question are released or not.

Making amends, visibly and swiftly through a neutral adjudicant, as mentioned above perhaps the Hague.
The International Court of Justice is under U.N. charter and is not beholden to whatever laws the U.S. passes internally.

Of course, the U.S. withdrew from that compulsory jurisdiction in ‘86, so it’s case by case.

“In other words, no one believes this guy to be innocent, do they?”

What you or I believe is irrelevant to the principle of innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
As it stands we are a nation of men not laws. At least as far as matters such as these go. Whether KSM is truly innocent or guilty does not matter as much as the process being clear and fair for all charged of a crime.

The argument implicit here is not that he is innocent, but rather that his innocence or guilt does not matter when, before any trial, someone is held for years without charges, tortured, and sent to trial only as political expediency dictates not as a matter of due course.

Our leaders should and must be constrained by due course and law.
Whether this case has merit, whether the “enemy combatant” issue has millions of nuances or not the fact of the matter is they are based on expediency not on the constraint of the law.

And the enforcers and adjudicators of the law, their actions, must be bound by it as much as those subject to it otherwise the law is meaningless because it is then merely a reflection of the prejudices and a priori conclusions of our leaders, not an earnest inquiry into actual guilt or innocence.

The validity of any law is predicated on its universal applicability, not that all laws must apply in all circumstances, but they must apply equally to anyone without regard to their standing, wealth or power.

What is at issue is not whether these men are innocent or guilty of the crimes they are charged with, but the illegality of his interrogation under torture.
Why is the government, or rather, why are the men serving in the Bush administration allowed to break the law in its prosecution of these men?

Is it not obvious that breaking the law in prosecuting someone, circumventing or entirely disposing of the process, completely invalidates the concept of justice? Whether they are, or can be found guilty is then besides the point.

This is why cases are routinely thrown out of court when the government uses illegal procedures.
Plus what has been said above by Pope Guilty and others.

But the people of the U.S. allowed the government to go off the rails some time ago. We want to stop planes flying into buildings and killing us, might be a good idea to rein our government back in line with what it is we want as opposed to what a small elite feels they can, or should be allowed to, get away with.
posted by HVAC Guerilla at 10:13 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


As dios said above, I'm not sure how you know this.

Testimony elicited from Torture is Neither True nor False, because it cannot be Trusted. Anyone will admit to Anything when tortured. Even Freepers will admit to liking Hillary Clinton if their fingernails are yanked off Violently.

Permitting the use of Torture calls the legitimacy of a Legal System into Question, which has thereby demonstrated itself Incapable of Seeking Truth through Legitimate Means.

The point of Due Process is that Trust in the System allows trust in the Truth of the Facts as presented in a Case, for All Cases.

When Due Process works, it doesn't just work for Accused Terrorists, but for Everyday, Law-Abiding Citizens, like You and Me. Legitimacy is predicated on Trust in the System.

When Due Process fails because the System cannot be trusted, that doesn't just break the Legal System for Accused Terrorists, but makes it harder to impossible for Everyday, Law-Abiding Citizens to seek Justice through the Courts.

Worse, presentation of testimony to to the Public by the Government feeding the Media, in order to evoke Presumptions of Guilt by an Angry Mob, when we are all Innocent Before Proven Guilty, only highlights this Gross, Systemic Failure.

If the Accused is Guilty, then the Court of Law should be able to do this through establishing the Truth of Legitimately Obtained Evidence, and not through the End Run of inciting Mob Rule to legitimize the government's actions, nor through the Deceitful End Run of Torture.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:16 AM on February 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


I am arguing that one can condemn the means and still find the ends just.

I suppose the merit of this argument then relies on what you define as condemnation of the means. If the means are unjust, then the ends should be invalidated. If its agreed that the path to the objective was wrong, then the result is tainted and by no means can it be just.
posted by Atreides at 10:18 AM on February 12, 2008


We're gonna give you a fair trial, followed by a first-class hanging.
-- Brian Dennehy in Silverado
posted by kirkaracha at 10:41 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


“Either way, it does not negate the possibility of a fair trial...If that same person has what KSM had done to him, and was finally put to trial, the trial would still be fair and the result just if his guilt was proven by the video.”

The possibility of a fair trial is not what is at issue. Certainly it’s possible to have a fair trial after beating and torturing a suspect and invalidating any evidence derived from such events. The counter argument is that when such things occur judges generally invalidate the case the prosecution makes. Police brutality as an example. But certainly, if we’re considering a theoretical postulate, certainly it can be done.
That is not, however, what is being done here.

Comment from the CCR:

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

The case being made is not that once we invalidate the evidence derived through beatings, severe sleep deprivation combined with 20-hour interrogations for months at a time, threats of rendition to other countries that torture, explicit threats made against family, including female members of his family, strip searches, body searches and forced nudity, at times in the presence of female personnel, sexual humiliation, humiliation by forcing him to bark like a dog, dance with a mask on his face, and pick up piles of trash with his hands cuffed while he was called “a pig,” denial of the right to practice his religion, including prohibiting him from praying for prolonged times and during Ramadan, threats to desecrate the Koran in front of him, attacks by dogs, forcible administration of frequent IVs by medical personnel during interrogation, being placed in acute stress positions for hours at a time, being placed in tight restraints repeatedly for many months or days and nights, exposure to low temperatures for extended periods of time, exposure to loud music for prolonged times, and at least 160 days of severe isolation, a fair trial can occur.

No, what’s being said is that not only do the use such tactics by the government invalidate their pursuit of justice (in that the tactics themselves are illegal and manifestly violate human rights) but that such evidence is so interconnected with related evidence that it is hard to separate where evidence from third party and objective sources begins and evidence derived from torture ends.

Not to mention the right of the individual not to implicate himself. If he delivers evidence under duress that leads to third party evidence that evidence should be invalidated. Even though it is, strictly speaking, objective, it is still derived from torture.
And what happens in cases where the information is parallel? What was derived from investigation parallels what was said under torture.
How is a judge to determine which evidence came first?

There are many, many clear reasons that impeach the governments case. Only the fact that perhaps these people are guilty remains on the other side of the scale. But that is not good enough to execute anyone no matter how heinous their crime might have been.

And all that quite apart from the assertions by the CCR that particulars of the case are not, in fact, based on solid investigative ground, but on secrets and hearsay.

What is theoretically possible within the legal system does not address the reality of what is being done outside of it.
posted by HVAC Guerilla at 10:42 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


The videotapes of the waterboarding have been destroyed, so the trial may now proceed.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:57 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


If he can be proven objectively guilty based on evidence obtained from third parties...

Evidence which he probably hasn't been allowed to see or examine or challenge, because it's rly rly seekrit.

"Though Hartmann said the trial would be largely open, it is not known how much of the evidence against them will be shown to the six defendants or their lawyers." (here)

That's just. That's fair. That's a totally excellent way to run a real not-for-show trial, amirite?
posted by rtha at 11:17 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


In related news:

Scalia Defends Torture: It’s ‘Absurd’ To Say The Gov’t Can’t ‘Smack’ A Suspect ‘In The Face’.

Charles Swift: Use Of Waterboarding Evidence In Court Unheard Of Since ‘Spanish Inquisition’.
posted by ericb at 12:43 PM on February 12, 2008


Didn't Khaled 'confess' to plotting to blow up a building that didn't exist when he was incarcerated? A shopping center in Seattle or something like that?

Not sure about that, but he did "confess" to a long, rambling shopping list of schemes that both strained plausibility, among them plans to blow up Big Ben, the Panama Canal, the Sears Tower, and assassinate the Pope. Because of this, Daniel Pearl's family does not accept Mohammed's "confession" that he murdered Pearl.

Evidence obtained from torture is notoriously unreliable. If defenders of torture were really concerned with bringing criminals to justice and preventing future attacks, they would instead advocate interrogation procedures that yield accurate evidence that is usable in court.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 1:50 PM on February 12, 2008


Discovery Channel Accused of Political Censorship for Dropping Oscar-Nominated Doc on U.S. Torture
posted by homunculus at 2:01 PM on February 12, 2008


His confessions, according to wikiquote:
1. I was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center Operation.
2. I was responsible for the 9/11 Operation, from A to Z.
3. –––––––––
4. I was responsible for the Shoe Bomber Operation to down two American airplanes.
5. I was responsible for the Filka Island Operation in Kuwait that killed two American soldiers.
6. I was responsible for the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, which was frequented by British and Australian nationals.
7. I was responsible for planning, training, surveying, and financing the New (or Second) Wave attacks against the following skyscrapers after 9/11:
1. Library Tower, California.
2. Sears Tower, Chicago,
3. Plaza Bank, Washington state.
4. The Empire State Building, New York City.
8. I was responsible for planning, financing, & follow-up of Operations to destroy American military vessels and oil tankers in the Straights of Hormuz, the Straights of Gibraltar, and the Port of Singapore.
9. I was responsible for planning, training, surveying, and financing for the Operation to bomb and destroy the Panama Canal.
10. I was responsible for surveying and financing for the assassination of several former American Presidents, including President Carter.
11. I was responsible for surveying, planning, and financing for the bombing of suspension bridges in New York.
12. I was responsible for planning to destroy the Sears Tower by burning a few fuel or oil tanker trucks beneath it or around it.
13. I was responsible for planning, surveying, and financing for the operation to destroy Heathrow Airport, the Canary Wharf Building, and Big Ben on British soil.
14. I was responsible for planning, surveying, and financing for the destruction of many night clubs frequented by American and British citizens on Thailand soil.
15. I was responsible for surveying and financing for the destruction of the New York Stock Exchange and other financial targets after 9/11.
16. I was responsible for planning, financing, and surveying for the destruction of buildings in the Israeli city of Elat by using airplanes leaving from Saudi Arabia.
17. I was responsible for planning, surveying, and financing for the destruction of American embassies in Indonesia, Australia, and Japan.
18. I was responsible for surveying and financing for the destruction of the Israeli embassy in India, Azerbaijan, the Philippines, and Australia.
19. I was responsible for surveying and financing for the destruction of an Israeli 'El-AP Airlines flight on Thailand soil departing from Bangkok Airport.
20. I was responsible for sending several Mujahadeen into Israel to conduct surveillance to hit several strategic targets deep in Israel.
21. I was responsible for the bombing of the hotel in Mombasa that is frequented by Jewish travelers via El-Al airlines.
22. I was responsible for launching a Russian-made SA-7 surface-to-air missile on El-Al or other Jewish airliner departing from Mombasa.
23. I was responsible for planning and surveying to hit American targets in South Korea. such as American military bases and a few night clubs frequented by American soldiers.
24. I was responsible for financial, excuse me, I was responsible for providing financial support to hit American, Jewish, and British targets in Turkey.
25. I was responsible for surveillance needed to hit nuclear power plants that generate electricity in several U.S. states.
26. I was responsible for planning, surveying, and financing to hit NATO Headquarters in Europe.
27. I was responsible for the planning and surveying needed to execute the Bojinka Operation, which was designed to down twelve American airplanes full of passengers. I personally monitored a round-trip, Manila-to-Seoul, Pan Am flight.
28. I was responsible for the assassination attempt against President Clinton during his Visit to the Philippines in 1994 or 1995.
29. "I shared responsibility for the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul the second while he was visiting the Philippines.
30. I was responsible for the training and financing for the assassination of Pakistan's President Musharaf.
31. I was responsible for the attempt to destroy an American oil company owned by the Jewish former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, on the Island of Sumatra, Indonesia."

So the world is finally save! I'm surprised that neither Kennedy nor pretzels show up in this list and remain unsolved.. that's obviously a conspiracy of the liberal media trying to censor the truth!
posted by dnial at 2:45 PM on February 12, 2008


His confessions, according to wikiquote...

The confession (as per mention at wikiquote) is drawn from the document Khalid Shaykh Muhammad: Transcript of CSRT Hearing [PDF] from the Department of Defense official website.
posted by ericb at 3:01 PM on February 12, 2008


Personally I'd prefer to see the US punished for its collective crimes against humanity than a guy that may have killed a handful of Americans...

Get in line, mary8nne—you're as guilty in this matter as I am.

3. –––––––––

The real Third Secret of Fatima?
posted by oaf at 8:54 PM on February 12, 2008


The Guardian on these trials
posted by grouse at 3:23 AM on February 13, 2008


What would be great is if people stopped attacking dios personally because we are supposedly all adults here. Disagree with him all you like but remember that when he argues about legal points he generally does so without attaching his own personal feelings or thoughts to it.

Can we please not do the whole MeTa thing about this?
posted by longbaugh at 6:01 AM on February 13, 2008


WaPo: The cadre of civilian lawyers representing terrorism suspects held by the military at Guantanamo Bay are not allowed to meet their clients in private, without video surveillance. All their mail and notes must be turned over to the military. Classified information cannot be shared with their clients. They are not entitled to everything the government knows about their clients.

and, from a different WaPo article: Lawyers representing military detainees at Guantanamo Bay have expressed concern that the government has violated a federal court order by losing or erasing several years' worth of digital video recordings that could shed light on the legality of detainee treatment.
posted by rtha at 11:10 AM on February 14, 2008


I am surprised to see that he "confessed" to the Bali bombings. I thought that the Indonesian authorities had already caught and jailed the people responsible for those?
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 4:59 PM on February 14, 2008


That's the beauty of waterboarding: you can get someone to confess to anything.
posted by homunculus at 8:17 PM on February 14, 2008


Charles Swift: Why Now? The timing of the Guantanamo trials is not an accident.
posted by homunculus at 1:08 AM on February 19, 2008


Rigged Trials at Gitmo
posted by homunculus at 9:16 AM on February 20, 2008


Top Gitmo lawyer: ‘We can’t have acquittals.’
Col. Morris Davis resigned his position as chief prosecutor for Guantánamo Bay’s military commissions after being placed under the command of torture advocate William J. Haynes. As a result of a conversation he had with Haynes in 2005, Davis tells The Nation that he doesn’t believe “the men at Guantánamo could receive a fair trial”:
“I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process,” Davis continued. “At which point, [Haynes’s] eyes got wide and he said, ‘Wait a minute, we can’t have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals, we’ve got to have convictions.’”
posted by ericb at 2:32 PM on February 20, 2008


As per the same 'The Nation' article to which homunculus links.
posted by ericb at 2:33 PM on February 20, 2008


The Hippocratic Oath Dies in Gitmo
posted by homunculus at 1:44 PM on February 27, 2008


Khadr lawyers allege Cheney linked to video release
posted by homunculus at 1:42 PM on March 4, 2008


The Afghan hero who died in Guantanamo
posted by homunculus at 10:08 AM on March 8, 2008


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