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Torture Watch

By Dan Froomkin
1:01 PM ET, 02/ 5/2009

Torture opponents hope that President Obama will follow up his banning of torture by clearing the air about what the U.S. actually did these past eight years. But there's now one sign he may not.

Mary Jordan writes in The Washington Post: "Two British High Court judges ruled against releasing documents describing the treatment of a British detainee at the Guantanamo Bay prison, but made clear their reluctance, saying that the United States had threatened to withhold intelligence cooperation with Britain if the information were made public.

"'We did not consider that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence...relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be,' Justice John Thomas and Justice David Lloyd Jones wrote.

"The judges decided not to release information, supplied to the court by U.S. officials, concerning the treatment of Binyam Mohamed, 31, an Ethiopian-born British resident who was arrested in Pakistan in 2002."

Richard Norton-Taylor writes in The Guardian: "A spokesman for the US state department said: 'The US thanks the UK government for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information and preserve the long standing intelligence-sharing relationship that enables both countries to protect their citizens. The US investigates allegations and claims of torture ... such as those raised by Binyam Mohamed.'"

Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, responded: "Hope is flickering. The Obama administration's position is not change. It is more of the same. This represents a complete turn-around and undermining of the restoration of the rule of law. The new American administration shouldn't be complicit in hiding the abuses of its predecessors."

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