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August 22, 2008

The Home of Habeas and Exposing America's Torture Regime
Posted by Adam Blickstein

A few months ago, I wrote about what role foreign courts would play (specifically the case of Binyam Mohamed in Britain)  in both exposing the Administration's deployment of torture on detainees and  undermining the military tribunal process already greatly weakened by America courts. Yesterday, Britain's High Court ruled in the Mohamed case, stating that the MI5 was complicit in his “unlawful interrogation,” detention and torture.  The details of Mohamed's case are quite gruesome, but for the most part, documents associated with it have been secretly held on national security grounds because, according to Britain's foreign secretary David Miliband, "disclosure would harm Britain's intelligence relationship with the US."  Well, in the same case, the court also repudiated Miliband's claim, which should have broad repercussions in the U.K. and America:

A British court ordered Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Thursday to disclose secret documents that could prove critical to the defense of a Guantanamo Bay detainee who claims he was tortured while in U.S. custody on terrorism charges.

Prosecutors have prepared charges against Mohamed, but they must be approved by Susan Crawford, a U.S. Defense Department official who oversees the military commissions. The Pentagon said Crawford was still reviewing the charges and information provided by the defense.

U.S. Department of Defense spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith declined to speak about the high court decision, saying it would be "inappropriate to comment about another country's court rulings.

Interesting that it is inappropriate to comment on another country's court rulings when they have a greater potential to expose the Bush administration's failure to maintain the moral high ground, follow international law and uphold the ideals of our constitution while prosecuting the war on terror than America's court system has, in certain respects, done. Surely, as is usually the case, the Administration would have been able to hide behind the veil of executive privilege during similar judicial proceedings here, and actual evidence of torture and illegal detention would never see the light of day.  Unfortunately, executive privilege doesn't travel overseas.

Of course perhaps since the idea of habeas corpus was hatched in Britain in the first place, they take it more seriously than we do. But it's sad that it takes a country with no formal constitution to protect and rescue our own once respected and sacrosanct constitution.


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It's unfortunate that with all the attention centered on a couple of hundred poor souls held by the US military in Cuba, that some attention can't be given to the human rights of the tens of thousands of summarily captured prisoners (many of them tortured) held by the US military and CIA in other countries, primarily Iraq.

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