Friday, December 14, 2012

The (show) trial of the century

US Army Col. James Pohl is faithfully doing the bidding of his masters. The man who will preside over the trial, in military court, of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, granted the government's request to treat any mention of torture as classified.

Sure, we all knew the fix was in from day one. There was no way that anyone involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks would get anything resembling a fair trial. There was no way that our government was going to let anyone walk out of the courtroom a free man.

Previously Col. Pohl ordered that there be a 40 second delay in the audio feed just in case someone let slip something that was embarrassing to the government confidential. That provision, in essence, closes the courtroom to the public. The public which, by the way, has a right to observe the proceedings and to see just what their government is up to.

These are, for all intents and purposes, nothing more than show trials. I'm only surprised they haven't announced the sentences prior to the beginning of trial.
The judge added that “without limitation, observations and experiences of an accused” would also be treated as classified information as they emerge from a defendant’s mouth.
Just think of the absurdity of that statement for a minute or two.

Our courts decided a long time ago that we would not allow confessions obtained by the use of coercive measures to be admitted into evidence. The Fifth Amendment - which applies to "people," not just citizens - says that we have the right to keep our mouths shut when the government wants to ask us questions. If a person says they don't want to talk, there is nothing more the police can do.

The use of torture violates international law. It violates the Geneva Convention. If you're the head of a developing nation and you waterboarded political dissidents, you could find yourself hauled in front of the International Criminal Court once you're out of office to answer charges (of course if you're the President of the United States, or acting on his behalf, you can do any goddamn thing you want and tell the ICC to go fuck itself).
“The government wanted to ensure that the American public would never hear the defendants’ accounts of illegal CIA torture, rendition, and detention. The military judge has gone along with that shameful plan.” -- Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's national security project
There is no denying the fact that Mr. Mohammed was tortured. He was waterboarded some 183 times. He was also subject to other physical and psychological torture while in US custody.

Mr. Mohammed is entitled to have every statement he made as a result of coercion deemed inadmissible at trial. So are his co-defendants. That, of course, would leave very little concrete evidence. And we certainly can't have that, can we?

But to deem any testimony from Mr. Mohammed about the manner in which he was mistreated in custody as confidential information is a travesty of justice. The American people have a right to know what the government has done in their name. Mr. Mohammed has a right to tell his story. Mr. Mohammed was not a part of US intelligence. He wasn't a part of the military. He wasn't a part of George W. Bush's inner circle who thought this was a good idea. Mr. Mohammed was the victim of torture.

These trials should not be held in front of military tribunals. They should be held in open court where the world can witness the depraved behavior our officials sanctioned and carried out. The evidence should be heard and those responsible should have to answer to humanity.

Col. Pohl is but a tool of a government hellbent on shredding the Bill of Rights. In so doing he has violated his oath to uphold the Constitution. For his complicity in this farce, Col. Pohl should be court martialed.

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