Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Still digging....

Or, riding my newest hobby horse for just one more day:

Qahtani's case drew condemnation in June 2005 when Time magazine published leaked portions of his interrogation log showing that U.S. forces had him bark like a dog and left him to urinate on himself in isolation.

In the log, U.S. interrogators describe how they ratcheted up techniques on Qahtani during 50 days starting in November 2002 to extract a confession -- by using sleep deprivation, leaving him strapped to an intravenous drip without bathroom breaks and having him strip naked.

Monday, he was one of six men named by the Pentagon to face a complex six-defendant war crimes trial for the suicide attacks that slammed aircraft into the Pentagon, World Trade Center and a Pennsylvania field -- killing 2,973 people.

The six men could be executed if they are convicted, and if a Bush administration official approves their trial as a death-penalty case.

The Pentagon has since said that Qahtani's interrogation tactics were personally approved by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Qahtani's civilian attorney said the captive has since recanted any confessions he made during those interrogations.
Let me say, first, I knew nothing about the IV drip when I first used this picture. Now it seems unfortunately appropriate...

The MSNBC article I'd started with doesn't specify which of the defendants were interrogated by the FBI; it only gives a blanket statement that all of the defendants have given information under FBI questioning similar to that given under torture. There is this interesting link, though, which shows clearly that over 2 years ago, the Pentagon knew a fair trial for Qahtani had been rendered impossible:
Although they believed the abusive techniques were probably illegal, the Pentagon cops said their objection was practical. They argued that abusive interrogations were not likely to produce truthful information, either for preventing more al-Qaida attacks or prosecuting terrorists.

And they described their disappointment when military prosecutors told them not to worry about making a criminal case against al-Qahtani, the suspected "20th hijacker" of Sept. 11, because what had been done to him would prevent him from ever being put on trial.
In other words, even the Pentagon knows this "military tribunal" is a kangaroo court. That article goes on to note something curious: the Pentagon's Criminal Investigation Task Force sent Mark Fallon to Guantanamo along with "General Geoffrey D. Miller, the U.S. Army general in charge of detainees at Guantanamo Bay," in 2003. Why? Because:

Fallon said he feared that the Guantanamo techniques would spread.

"I wanted to tackle the general, anything to stop him from getting on that plane," Fallon said. "The best I could do was to send along a chaperone."
Miller denies this story, in the same article. But why would the Pentagon need to block a General going to Guantanamo? Why is the left hand fighting with the right hand? Because, as The Miami Herald story says, "...Qahtani's interrogation tactics were personally approved by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Still, as the MSNBC article now notes:

"There's something in American jurisprudence called 'fruit of the poisonous tree': You can clean up the tree a little but it's hard to do," said John D. Hutson, a retired Navy rear admiral and former judge advocate general. "Once you torture someone, it is hard to un-torture them. The general public is going to be concerned about the validity of the testimony."
But of course, that's the standard for a criminal trial.

It is unclear whether that will matter in the military commissions system, which gives prosecutors more leeway than they have in regular criminal courts.
We'll have to wait to see just how clear this process is going to be. But I'm already envisioning something curiously akin to Alice's adventures with the trial of the Knave of Hearts.

While we're waiting for that, we have this prayer, and these thoughts, from r@d@r, to guide us:

god grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i can, and the wisdom to buy exclusively from local small-batch roasters.

hey, the kid WANTED me to take those pictures - i offered him a happy meal!

deliver us from evil.

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