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Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment
February 10, 2010 3:25 PM   Subscribe

Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities.

This is not a simple case of a politician or other public figure making an accusation against the United States. This is a British High Court rendering a decision after examining evidence. The language chosen is significant. Although "could readily be contended" perhaps could be interpreted as leaving a bit of wiggle room, that possibility is slapped down entirely by "at the very least" before launching into the highly significant "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment". This final phrase, often shortened to CIDT, is important because it is a key element of the UN Convention Against Torture...
posted by Joe Beese (41 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
As long as waterboarding isn't torture, we could use it to question Dick Cheney about what was in that man-sized safe.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:28 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


This was when his nightmare began. After two weeks, an American agent, who identified himself as “Chuck,” and who said that he worked for the FBI, visited him. As previously noted, this was when Binyam asked for a lawyer, but was told, “The law’s changed. There are no lawyers. Either you’re going to answer me the easy way or I get the information I need another way.”

I will never really understand why the party that hates government, that fears government, that wants to dismantle government rallies behind a government that has to power to do this.

Pity this guy didn't have a handgun that the FBI took away from him.
posted by three blind mice at 3:32 PM on February 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


After the de Menezes inquest and after their assistance with CIA black sites, the government of the United Kingdom would appear to have absolutely no credibility on this matter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:33 PM on February 10, 2010


ok, but what about the UK High court?
posted by Artful Codger at 3:40 PM on February 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


How utterly sickening. And having said that, I am very interested to see how this story develops (if at all) in the US. At some point we-- by which I mean the mass of American citizens -- have to come to terms with what we let our government do.
posted by bearwife at 3:46 PM on February 10, 2010


Yeah, it's totally OK to brush stuff like "your government tortures prisoners" off just 'cause you've heard it before.

"Gross violations of fundamental rights and basic human decency condoned by our political institutions: oldnuze, amirite?"
posted by mhoye at 4:01 PM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


"As we warned, the court's judgement will complicate the confidentiality of our intelligence-sharing relationship with the UK, and it will have to factor into our decision-making going forward," he said.

Or hey, I dunno, you could STOP TORTURING PEOPLE.
posted by empath at 4:09 PM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Why is it that the behavior we describe as "inhuman" has been been repeated ad nauseum throughout human history? For the same reason that this will ultimately come to nothing besides some embarrassed grumbling from government officials who hope the populace will have forgotten about it by the time the next horrifying, ghastly thing they've done comes to light - and by and large, the populace will.

This kind of thing has been going on since we lived in caves, and it will continue until we finally evolve past it, and evolution's slow. I hope Mohamed recieves some kind of justice for what he's gone through, and I hope that justice is extended to all of the people who have had to suffer the whims of empires that are built and maintained by cruelty. I'm not holding my breath, though.
posted by Toby Dammit X at 4:14 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


As long as waterboarding isn't torture, we could use it to question Dick Cheney about what was in that man-sized safe.

I assume that it's the corpse of the original, human Dick Cheney. This is consistent with the report in the New York Times that the man-sized safe is a Mosler GN80 Soulmaster model, for which the Mosler Safe Company made the following claims: that it hides its content from the eyes of God; that it prevents any spirits within it from escaping or communicating with the outside world; and that it is compatible with Mosler Akashic Projector, allowing near-perfect imitation of any living or formerly living materials encased within it (assuming the user has also attended the Mosler Necromancy Seminar). If my suppositions are correct, Dick Cheney would not respond well to waterboarding unless the water had been blessed by an ordained priest.
posted by stammer at 4:16 PM on February 10, 2010 [18 favorites]


For case law buffs: here's the High Court judgment (on the issue of whether paragraphs should remain redacted) is here; and here the Court of Appeal upholds the High Court decision.

The first judgment is here [Note that these cases relate to an application for the UK Govt to disclose information to Mohamed's lawyers; the case isn't directly against the US Govt).

The redacted paragraphs are here (from a link in the 3rd link in the OP).

As Artful Codger says, this isn't a UK Govt decision - it's a decision of the High Court, upheld by the Court of Appeal. And in fact it is against the UK Government - they are the ones who wanted this information kept out of the judgment.
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:36 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


At some point we-- by which I mean the mass of American citizens -- have to come to terms with what we let our government do our government did and then later was revealed in fits and starts by whistleblowers and legal teams. FTFY

I do wish we had a better mechanism in place for confronting those with power with the bullshit they exercise while wielding that power. I don't know what it is, but I'd happily take part if required.
posted by hippybear at 4:49 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


this isn't a UK Govt decision - it's a decision of the High Court

Isn't the High Court part of the UK government?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:51 PM on February 10, 2010


Thanks, hippybear, but I meant what I said. We were all around for the Patriot Act, the declaration of "enemy combatant" status, the abrogation of all civil rights at our airports, the launch and maintenance of Guantanamo Bay, the practice of rendition . . . I could go on. Our use of torture has been known for quite awhile now.

What strikes me is that these stories draw no interest from the American public. If they did, we have a fast and effective way to hold our government to account: it is called the right to vote. That's why public opinion polls move government officials. They prefer to keep their jobs.

We need to admit that we have not called our government to account. Still.
posted by bearwife at 4:59 PM on February 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


If my suppositions are correct, Dick Cheney would not respond well to waterboarding unless the water had been blessed by an ordained priest.

Here ya go
posted by pompomtom at 5:01 PM on February 10, 2010


we have a fast and effective way to hold our government to account: it is called the right to vote.

Every two or four years isn't all that fast.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 5:36 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an American, I am SO pleased that the British judge didn't bow to my government's threats and posturing about intelligence sharing and sided instead with human rights and the rule of law. This is FANTASTIC. A proud day for Britain.

And hopefully a wakeup call for the herds of fearful patriots over here,
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:41 PM on February 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


we have a fast and effective way to hold our government to account: it is called the right to vote.

You need an informed electorate for that, and our corporate controlled media makes sure everyday that that ain't gonna happen anytime soon.
posted by Max Power at 5:41 PM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


By the way, in case it wasn't clear, I think the British role in the unlawful detention, shameful secrecy, and horrific treatment is also shameful. However, unlike American politicians, British officials are displaying the capacity and desire for introspection, retrospection, and change.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:44 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hope that this is the first crack in the plaster that's hiding an infestation of cockroaches in worldwide democracies. When a state can freely exercise secrecy in its actions, the chain of democratic responsibility is irrevocably broken. I feel like this decision to reject the bankrupt doctrine of secrecy for the sake of national security in favor of exposing state-sponsored criminal activity to justice is the first breath of fresh air in a long time.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:48 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here ya go

According to them, mefi's own jscalzi (scroll down) and a couple other people already did so!
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 5:49 PM on February 10, 2010


oldnuze, amirite?

Not half as old as that increasingly grating "amirite" trope.
posted by Xezlec at 5:50 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


"At some point we-- by which I mean the mass of American citizens -- have to come to terms with what we let our government do."

Oh, you mean like actually making things right between us and the native Americans, so that none of them would have to live a life of poverty, govenrment neglect, and hopelessness anymore?

Or perhaps realizing that we helped unleash a genocide in the Philippines against a people who simply wanted independence?

Or realizing that Iraq could just as easily be referred to as the Great Sunni Genocide, as the significant majority of Iraqis who died or were forced to flee their homes were Sunni, with large parts of Baghdad and other areas either ethnically cleansed or with Sunnis squeezed into armed ghettos and denied real political representation. According to a UN diplomat in Baghdad, Prime Minister Al Maliki’ sees the great majority of the over two million -- primarily Sunni -- Iraqi refugees as "traitors" or "baathists", while prominent Shi'a political leaders court populist anger by talking of revenge and debaathification.

In effect, Iraq was predominantly Sunni ethic cleansing, on a scale larger in size and more permanently uprooted than that of the Bosnian genocide, and with a larger refugee exodus than we saw in the Armenian genocide. Sunni will not return home to be treated like second-class citizens. Indeed, if they did all try returning home, they would likely experience another wave of ethnic cleansing.

"At some point we . . . have to come to terms with what we let our government do."

In any kind of meaningful, significant way? No, we don't. We won't. We refuse to do so.
posted by markkraft at 6:05 PM on February 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


In related news:
At the highest levels of the US military, a quiet discussion is going on about putting in place a legal framework that would permit the US government to strip American citizenship from terrorists.

The case of Las Cruces, New Mexico born al Qaeda commander Anwar al-Aulaqi, who has been a key organizer and recruiter for the terrorist organization in Yemen is the primary driver of this exploration of possibly modifying US law to allow "de-citizening."

As the Washington Post's Dana Priest recently revealed, al-Alaqi was added recently to a short list of other Americans for whom there are kill orders in place.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:39 PM on February 10, 2010


This kind of thing has been going on since we lived in caves, and it will continue until we finally evolve past it, and evolution's slow.

Evolution for us as a species has almost stopped. Ever since we became capable of manipulating our environment and our physical appearance (plastic surgery to improve symmetry), we've removed almost all selection pressure. It wouldn't surprise me if we were devolving as a species.

All this is beside the point. How could there be any evolutionary benefit to improving our morality beyond the bare minimum to survive and procreate within a social system?

Nevertheless, I believe in what Dr. King said: Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. The only way we can accelerate that arc is to shine a bright light in the scurrying corners of our society where sociopaths like these CIA interrogators are hiding. I'm so thankful for the UK High Court ruling, and I hope some European government can turn up shocking enough evidence to overcome the weight of American apathy and ignorance.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:44 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


1. De-citizening. Good Lord. I'm gonna go ahead with that second citizenship this summer.

2. Evolution for us as a species has almost stopped. Well, it turns out....
posted by Michael Roberts at 7:47 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and as to where the sociopaths are hiding, I'd try Wyoming first.
posted by Michael Roberts at 7:48 PM on February 10, 2010


"How could there be any evolutionary benefit to improving our morality beyond the bare minimum to survive and procreate within a social system?"

By changing the social system to one that actually favors our better nature. Of course, if that wasn't insanely difficult to do, it would have happened by now; but if insanity can help build empires atop boneyards, it's not entirely inconceivable that some day it will assist in building something measurably less horrifying - just unlikely.
posted by Toby Dammit X at 8:09 PM on February 10, 2010


How could there be any evolutionary benefit to improving our morality beyond the bare minimum to survive and procreate within a social system?

"Sir, the commoners are here to drag you and your family from the mansion and disembowel you in the streets. I've taken the liberty of letting them in and drugging your scotch because I am as sick of your shit as they."

That's how.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:11 PM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


why the party that hates government, that fears government, that wants to dismantle government rallies behind a government that has to power to do this.

It's the difference between daddy government and mommy government. They want a government that abuses them, that they hate and fear. That's daddy government. They don't want one that makes that country a better place to live in. That's mommy government.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:15 PM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Isn't the High Court part of the UK government?

It's part of the UK state. But it is separate from what most people would term the 'government', i.e. the executive branch ('No 10') and the legislative branch (Parliament). The last connection between the judiciary and the legislature was broken last year, when the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords was turned into the UK Supreme Court.

It is technically possible for Parliament to sack judges, but it requires both Houses to vote to do so and is virtually unheard of.
posted by Major Clanger at 11:59 PM on February 10, 2010


we have a fast and effective way to hold our government to account: it is called the right to vote.

You need a non-broken voting system for that. Quick question: are you going to vote for the people who are messing things up now or for the people who were messing things up before then and will again given half the chance?
posted by Zarkonnen at 1:10 AM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Three of the country's most senior judges today shattered the age-old ­convention that the courts cannot ­question claims by the government relating to national security, whatever is done in its name, in an unprecedented ruling that is likely to cause deep anxiety among the security and intelligence agencies via The Guardian
posted by adamvasco at 2:00 AM on February 11, 2010


Isn't the High Court part of the UK government?

Very much not.

While separation of power is much more imperfect in the UK as compared to the USA the courts are emphatically not part of the government. Indeed, they sit in judgment on it on a regular basis.

The reality is however that as adamvasco’s link notes, the courts have traditionally lain down in front of the government when it invokes the magic talisman of ‘national security’.

That’s what makes this decision so significant. My take on it through is that it seals the UK’s reputation as a client or vassal state of the US. We do what we are told and accept any old shit that the Americans throw our way: case in point.

I defer to few in my admiration of the US but the whole point of being friends is that they treat each other with mutual respect. That’s not characterised the US-UK relationship since the Iraq imbroglio. Methinks it’s time for us to reassess our relationship with the hyperpower. Don’t see that happening at any time soon though.
posted by dmt at 6:52 AM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


the people who are messing things up now or for the people who were messing things up before

The people who mess things up want you to believe those are your only choices. That way you won't make the effort that's necessary to throw them out.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:05 AM on February 11, 2010


It's part of the UK state

Isn't that a false distinction? The state is the government, with this being a demonstration of how all the gears worked together to destroy their collective credibility.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:59 AM on February 11, 2010


The White House has expressed "deep disappointment" at a UK court ruling that information on the alleged torture of a UK resident had to be disclosed.
posted by homunculus at 12:20 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cheney: "I Was A Big Supporter Of Waterboarding"

Does Dick Cheney Want to Be Prosecuted?
posted by homunculus at 8:26 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Report: Bush Lawyer Said President Could Order Civilians to Be 'Massacred'
posted by homunculus at 8:41 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The OPR report: this era's 'Hiroshima'
posted by homunculus at 8:48 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Legal Briefing: Rumsfeld Faces Suit Over 'Enhanced Interrogation' of Whistleblowers
posted by homunculus at 9:21 AM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Waterboarding for dummies: Internal CIA documents reveal a meticulous protocol that was far more brutal than Dick Cheney's "dunk in the water"
posted by homunculus at 8:27 AM on March 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


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