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Torture Watch

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."

By Dan Froomkin  |  February 5, 2009; 1:01 PM ET
Categories:  Looking Backward , Torture  
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Next: Is Admitting Mistakes Good Politics?


Who threatened withholding intelligence? Old burrowed-in Bush cronies in or new Obama appointees?

Posted by: JCinCT | February 5, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

What happens in Gitmo, stays in Gitmo.

Posted by: Patriot3 | February 5, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I have patience right now; Holder just got confirmed. His past words about torture are strong and to the point.

But if he does defend John Yoo in the Hamden lawsuit, I will be depressed.

Posted by: spenceradams | February 5, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Due to the timing of courts and transitions, I suspect this is a hold over Cheney threat. It has his fingerprints all over it.

Over the holidays I was crossreading Susskind's "Way of the World" and Barton Gellman's "Angler" along with several books by US interrogators.

Cheney's ability to undermine US moral superiority has done more to promote al Qaeda that anything Zawahiri could have devised.

Posted by: boscobobb | February 5, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Christ people have some patience! You can't expect the last 8 years to be undone in two weeks.

OMG, it's been two weeks and he hasn't closed Gitmo, solved the economic crisis, ended the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor solved the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. GET REAL.

These are serious issues that are not going to be changed overnight and the Banana Republicans are doing their best to derail everything Obama tries. I hope they enjoy their minority status.

Posted by: troyd2009 | February 5, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

As long as there is a Clinton in power we will not get to the full truth.

Posted by: samellison | February 5, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

After reading the BBC story, it is clear that this was done by the Bush administration. I'll bet the Obama people were sandbagged. This doesn't say anything about the Obama administration's policies, and in fact the BBC story mentioned that some of its sources expressed curiosity about whether or not the Obama administration would continue this Bush policy! This is not something that happened in the last two weeks.

Posted by: Acharn | February 5, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes force is necessary. In every war soldiers kill for some cause. Those of us who aspire to be fully human want to believe that a soldier’s response should be measured. Let someone execute someone you love and lets see how you deal with that. Sometimes the response is not measured.
The Bush administration, like others in US history, made choices that they believed were less evil than putting Americans at risk for another attach. Expecting the new Administration to hold them accountable is an interesting version of citizen self-righteousness. What anyone does in war is always, in their minds and hearts, the lesser of two evils. That’s what sustains mans’ inhumanity to man. It appears that some citizens believe that the Bush Administration went from defending America by being forceful and taking decisive military action to becoming war criminals, and violators of the Constitution. They may be, but they are going to their graves believing it was the right thing to do because of what was or will be done to me and mine.
The best the new Administration can do is define a more ethical way to fight a war. In doing so they will try and understand what happens to a soldier and a commander when asked to accomplish a task that means the destruction of fellow human being and or an area the size of, say, Pittsburgh. Add to this the factor of timing. Justice is good, but Justice for what and for whom? Some people are capable of exercising superior restraint in any situation. History holds these individuals in high esteem. The Bush Administration’s legacy may very well be that it did not exercise moral and legal restraint when tested. Lets hope that Congress will exercise restraint and prevent this and future administrations from acting unrestrained when another attach or threat of an attach is made, unless we want the military to preempt the attack or go to hell and back to destroy all who try to destroy us.

Posted by: CitizenCulleton | February 6, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

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