What Fresh Hell Is This?

November 21, 2010

The Trib Editorial Board Lies About Torture

In an op-ed at the today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Scaife's braintrust omits a fundamental fact in it's discussion on the Ghailani verdict.

We've written about this before but I want to dive straight into the Trib's deception:
Conviction of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee linked to al-Qaida's 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on just one of 285 counts -- conspiracy to destroy U.S. property -- proves the naivete (or is it idiocy?) of the Obama administration trying suspected terrorists in civilian courts.

The judge's exclusion of a key witness -- because that witness had been identified while Ahmed Ghailani, 36, was in a secret CIA prison where harsh interrogation techniques were used -- hampered the prosecution in federal court in Lower Manhattan.
The reason Trib wants you to believe that the reason that "key witness" was excluded (because "that witness had been identified while Ahmed Ghailani, 36, was in a secret CIA prison where harsh interrogation techniques were used") is where their deception is found.

And how do I know this? Let's take a look at Judge Kaplan's order. First the set-up:
The question presented by this motion is whether the government may use in this criminal trial the testimony of a witness whom the government obtained only through information it allegedly extracted by physical and psychological abuse of the defendant. The government has elected not to litigate the details of what was done to the defendant. Instead, it has asked the Court to assume for purposes of the motion that everything the defendant said was coerced in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Accordingly this decision, at the government's behest, prooeeds on that premise. (page 4)
Kaplan goes onto say that Ghailani was subjected to "enhanced interrogation methods and other allegedly abusive treatment" and that Ghailani gave them the information that led them to the "key witness" Hussein Abebe." On top of that, the then government wanted to call Abebe to testify against Ghailani. (page 5). The judge concluded that that's a violation of the 5th Amendment.

Now look back at how the Trib characterized it. They left out the part that it was Ghailani who identified the Abebe AND they left out the part that he did it after being tortured enhancedly interrogated. All you get from the Trib is that Abebe was identified while Ghailani was at a place where people were being tortured enhancedly interrogated.

How's that for deception? You'd like to think that a "news" organization wouldn't lie to you that blatantly but this is the Trib op-ed page where honesty is a rare commodity.

But the braintrust isn't done. No sirree Bob! Here's the next paragraph:
Thus, an indisputable miscarriage of justice resulted from court-granted protection that Mr. Ghailani -- an enemy combatant, not a U.S. citizen -- didn't deserve and wouldn't have received from a military tribunal at Gitmo.
They're saying that had Ghailani been tried in a military tribunal the coerced information would have been allowed and the terrorist would have been found guilty of even more crimes.

Not so fast.

Take a look at this footnote from Kaplan's order (h/t to mediamatters):
It is very far from clear that Abebe's testimony would be admissible if Ghailani were being tried by military commission, even without regard to the question whether the Fifth Amendment would invalidate any more forgiving provisions of the rules of evidence otherwise applicable in such a proceeding.

Military commissions are governed by the Military Commissions Act, 10 USC 948a et seq. (the "MCA"). Evidence in such proceedings is governed by the Military Commission Rules of Evidence ("MCRE"). U.S. DEP'T OF DEFENSE, MANUAL FOR MILITARY COMMISSIONS (2010 ed.).

MCA 948r(a) and MCRE 304 preclude or restrict the use of "statements obtained by torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment," and evidence derived threrefrom, and could require exclusion of Abebe's testimony. Even if they did not, the Constitution might do so, even in a military commission proceeding.

Mediamatters even links back to the MCA to do something the Trib refuses to do - show the evidence supporting their position:
No statement, obtained by the use of torture, or by cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment (as defined by section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 2000dd)), whether or not under color of law, shall be admissible in a trial by military commission, except against a person accused of torture or such treatment as evidence that the statement was made.
None of which, of course, made it into the Trib's editorial.

Such a short editorial. So much misinformation. Par for the course for Richard Mellon Scaife's Tribune-Review.

1 comment:

EdHeath said...

This verdict indicates the paradoxical nature of the "Global War on Terror" Our criminal laws recognize the conduct of individuals that affect American citizens, and then we have the loose sorts of internationally agreed upon rules in which nations fight each other. In the Twentieth Century we started holding individuals in nations we were at (formal) war or even just in conflict with (the former Yugoslavia, Somalia to some extent) responsible for especially evil actions.

But it is complicated to be at war with a terrorist organization, or all terrorist organizations (I am not sure what we intend these days). Since terrorist organizations do not generally have a government structure or territory they can call their own, you can not really treat them like another country. They usually do not represent the wishes of a discrete group of people; the military rules should not apply. But their actions are closer to soldiers than ordinary criminals.

In any other trial, a sentence of 20 years to life would be hailed as a victory, even if there were 286 (some number) charges and conviction on only one. But of course it is not about the verdict. Conservatives want to paint Obama as incompetent, so naturally anything done during his administration is a failure, no matter what it is. It is certainly amazing to me that conservatives had stopped caring about Islam by 2007, but now are screaming that Sharia law had already taken over the country, and next month gangs of imams are going to roam the streets beating any woman not wearing a burqa. But hey, lying to the American people got the Republicans some house seats. Spending the last two years literally refusing to help people out of work, literally causing people to lose their houses and be made homeless, all this has been a winning Republican strategy. I expect them to shut down government early next year, and by 2012 we will be the laughing stock of the world. All because American voters dared in 2008 in a slight majority to vote for hope and bipartisanship. For that, conservatives/Republicans have decided the country must be punished until it gives into fear.