Bush Administration seeks silence on CIA prisons

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  • by Anup Shah
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The Washington Post reported (November 4, 2006) that the Bush administration told a federal judge that terrorism suspects held in secret CIA prisons should not be allowed to reveal details of the alternative interrogation methods that their captors used to get them to talk.

The Bush administration cited fears that released prisoners may reveal operational/interrogration details or clues to others, thus thwarting the ability to discover plots and methods.

The new court filings asked to even deny the detainees’ own attorneys to hear how their clients have been interrogated. This makes the ability to defend detainees extremely difficult. When the concept of innocent until proven guilty and the right to a fair trial is paramount, this conflict between national security and rights of detainees seem to conflict.

However, in the light of the various torture scandals that have marred the Bush administration’s image lately, this filing can also be criticized for attempting to cover up the use of torture (or alternative interrogation methods).

Torture is known to be a useless tactic in many cases to illicit information because people will say anything—including admitting to things they have not done—in order for the pain to stop. If more examples of US torture were to come out this way, it could pose a security threat to the US in the sense that some angry people, in places like Iraq, may retaliate with violence and lash out against US targets.

Of course, one way to counter that threat is to not torture in the first place.

Scott Horton, Chair of the International Law Committee at the New York Bar Association, was asked by Democray Now! for his reaction to this, and responded:

Well, I think one of the hallmarks of tyrannical government is using security classifications to obscure their criminal conduct. It’s well worth thinking about that.… What’s going on is an effort to impede the effective legal representation of defendants in criminal proceedings through the wielding of security classifications. These people are told that “what we did to you is classified top secret. Therefore, you may not talk about it.”

Of course, what was done to them was a criminal act. The Supreme Court of the United States concluded in Hamdan that Common Article 3 and the standards on treatment of detainees apply to these detainees. The techniques that were used do not conform to Common Article 3. Therefore, they are grave breaches. Therefore, they are crimes under United States law and under international law. So, that is why an effort is being made to cloak that. And when the Department of Justice of the United States files papers with a federal court attempting to obscure criminal conduct, something has sunk very low in this process.

Scott Horton, interviewed by Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! November 6, 2006

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