Friday, December 09, 2005

NYT: US uses claim made under torture for war, England says information resulting from torture is "never admissible" (Douglas Jehl; Sarah Lyall)

The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.
The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.
The new disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted partly from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of Qaeda members and others detained as part of American counterterrorism efforts. The Bush administration used Mr. Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda included training in explosives and chemical weapons.

The above is from Douglas Jehl's "Qaeda-Iraq Link U.S. Cited Is Tied to Coercion Claim" in this morning's New York Times. What? You mean people might make things up to avoid torture? Shocking! Get Condi in front of the mikes to deliver one of her infamous, "No one could have known" remarks. "No one could have known that people would make things up to avoid torture." She can say it with a straight face, she's done it before with her other "No one could have known" remarks. I'm not sure people will buy it this time but they can't launch Laura on another charm offensive since it's a little hard to sell the sunny side of torture.

Now keep Jehl's article in mind as we move to Sarah Lyall's "Britain's Top Court Rules Information Gotten by Torture Is Never Admissible Evidence:"

Britain's highest court thrust itself into the middle of a roiling international debate on Thursday, declaring that evidence obtained through torture - no matter by whom - was not admissible in British courts. It also said Britain had a "positive obligation" to uphold antitorture principles abroad as well as at home.
"The issue is one of constitutional principle, whether evidence obtained by torturing another human being may lawfully be admitted against a party to proceedings in a British court, irrespective of where, or by whom, or on whose authority the torture was inflicted," said Lord Bingham, writing the lead opinion in a unanimous ruling for the Law Lords. "To that question I would give a very clear negative answer."
The ruling dealt specifically with 10 men who were detained after the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, and were held without charge in Britain on suspicion of being terrorists. But while the question at hand concerned only British courts, the ruling seems to have been made with the current international situation very much in mind. Several of the concurring opinions referred explicitly, and not flatteringly, to the United States.

"Not flatteringly" is a bit mild descriptive wise and should probably stick to the fashion section of the Times. Gareth Peirce is quoted (she defended eight of the ten men):

"It's a modern judgment, in December 2005, but it's steeped in the legal and moral history not just of this country but also of the United States and international treaty obligations," she said in an interview. "We believe our colleagues in the United States who are fighting for the rule of law will take strength from the judgment."

Peirce spoke to Amy Goodman on these cases back in February: "EXCLUSIVE: British Human Rights Lawyer Gareth Peirce Says Torture 'Is the Recipe for the Destruction' of International Human Rights."

Transition, today on Democracy Now!, a scheduled topic (via Rod) is:

New Orleans in the Aftermath: Three months after Hurricane Katrina crashed into the Gulf Coast, we hear from survivors still looking for missing relatives and loved ones, and we play excerpts of the explosive congressional hearings about race and the government's response to the disaster.

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