THE BLOG

The U.S. Has Been Torturing. Case Closed -- Literally

04/19/2010 05:12 am 05:12:01 | Updated May 25, 2011

Defenders of "enhanced interrogation techniques" -- they're just techniques, after all -- have continually insisted that the treatment does not cross the line into the forbidden land of torture. Critics have relied on history -- the US used to prosecute people for waterboarding. Now we have some hard evidence, in the form of rulings by US federal judges.

Thanks to the Supreme Court's habeas corpus ruling on Gitmo inmates, detainees have been getting federal court hearings on the reasonableness of their detentions.

And buried way down in the body of Saturday's Washington Post report on the hearings comes this bombshell:

The government also relied on Hatim's interrogations and his testimony at military hearings, during which he is said to have admitted to training at an al-Qaeda military camp. Judges have been skeptical of such statements unless the government provides evidence that the men were not seriously mistreated. In Hatim's case, the Justice Department did not dispute his contention that he was tortured in U.S. custody and that he made those admissions to avoid further mistreatment.

That's the US Justice Department, not disputing a detainee's contention that he was tortured in US custody; not insisting that he was subjected merely to enhanced techniques or any other tortured euphemism. In case you think that's an exceptional case, here's more:

Musa'ab al-Madhwani had admitted to interrogators and testified before military hearings that he had trained at an al-Qaeda camp and traveled with its members in Afghanistan and Pakistan, records show.

But the detainees' attorneys argued that the statements were tainted because their client was brutally tortured while in U.S. custody before his arrival in Cuba. He confessed only to prevent further mistreatment, they argued. The government did not contest Madhwani's claims.

And...

Binyam Mohamed...provided the government its most sensational allegation: He told interrogators that the Algerian trained at an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. Kessler wrote that she could not credit Mohamed's allegations because he had been mistreated in foreign and U.S. custody. The government did not dispute his well-publicized accounts of torture.

So far the ratio of detentions upheld to those rejected is 9 to 32. This in a federal court where the rules, according to the Post, have been set to favor the government.

But the essential point here is that the US Justice Department does not dispute that prisoners in American custody have been tortured. Case closed. Literally.