The attorney defending Binyan Mohamed claims--and this one's got to go into Ripley's--that either Homeland Security or Defense Department people actuall redacted a letter he sent President Obama complaining of his client's torture after the US allow Mohamed's rendition to Morocco:
A prominent British-American lawyer who represents an Ethiopian-born Guantánamo detainee is charging that U.S. Defense Department officials are intentionally concealing evidence of his client's rendition and torture from President Barack Obama.
The lawyer is Clive Stafford Smith, director of the legal charity Reprieve. He says he sent a letter to Obama through the Defense Department detailing "truly medieval" abuse inflicted on Binyam Mohamed, but that much of it was blacked out, preventing the president from reading it.
In the letter to the president, Stafford Smith urges Obama to be aware of the "bizarre reality" of the situation. "You, as commander in chief, are being denied access to material that would help prove that crimes have been committed by U.S. personnel. This decision is being made by the very people who you command."
Not surprisingly, the US has not commented publicly, although the administration is citing Bush administration state secrets concerns to keep the case from being reinstated:
A Gallup Poll released February 12 revealed that 62 percent of Americans want to investigate or criminally prosecute Bush administration officials who authorized torture in the so-called “war on terror.” But even though President Obama has said numerous times that “nobody's above the law,” on February 10 he used the Bush administration’s “state secrets” gambit to quash a lawsuit attempting to penalize some of those involved in renditioning torture subjects.
That lawsuit sought damages against a private airline used by the CIA to rendition low-value suspects for torture by dictatorial regimes abroad. One of the five plaintiffs, Benyam Muhammed (a British and Ethiopian citizen), alleged he was renditioned to Morocco where torturers made razor cuts on his penis. The lawsuit alleges that San Jose-based Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. should have known that its planes were being used to ferry suspects for torture and is therefore liable for damages.
But because the Obama administration invoked the “state secrets” policy at the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the lawsuit’s likelihood of revealing felony torture on the part of Bush officials is now remote.
“This is not change,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero correctly told the Associated Press. “Candidate Obama ran on a platform that would reform the abuse of state secrets, but President Obama's Justice Department has disappointingly reneged on that important civil liberties issue.”
Razor cuts to .. wha--?
Here's an extract from the suspect's diary about his interrogation in Morocco, take it for what it's worth:
They cut off my clothes with some kind of doctor's scalpel. I was naked. I tried to put on a brave face. But maybe I was going to be raped. Maybe they'd electrocute me. Maybe castrate me.
They took the scalpel to my right chest. It was only a small cut. Maybe an inch. At first I just screamed ... I was just shocked, I wasn't expecting ... Then they cut my left chest. This time I didn't want to scream because I knew it was coming.
One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony. They must have done this 20 to 30 times, in maybe two hours. There was blood all over. "I told you I was going to teach you who's the man," [one] eventually said.
They cut all over my private parts. One of them said it would be better just to cut it off, as I would only breed terrorists. I asked for a doctor.
Doctor No 1 carried a briefcase. "You're all right, aren't you? But I'm going to say a prayer for you." Doctor No 2 gave me an Alka-Seltzer for the pain. I told him about my penis. "I need to see it. How did this happen?" I told him. He looked like it was just another patient. "Put this cream on it two times a day. Morning and night." He gave me some kind of antibiotic.
Of course, I recognize that there is a natural tendency to discount the diary of an accused terrorist, but...
Amnesty International has been complaining about the need for investigations about the routine use of torture in Moroccan prisons for years.
The LA Times followed this story in 2005 of a French teacher tortured in Morocco:
CASABLANCA, Morocco -- He calls them the ''citadels of death," the prisons where he watched his friends die, one by one. He was tortured and starved until even the parasites abandoned his body. And when he was finally released from the government's secret detention centers, he was warned: Never speak of this, or we will put you someplace even worse.
Three decades later, Chari el Hou, a French teacher with a carefully knotted necktie and owlish glasses, broke his silence -- at the government's behest.
''No one can digest these pains indefinitely," Hou told a room packed tight with officials, academics, and citizens in testimony broadcast late last year throughout this North African country. ''And years later, I wanted to interrogate the memory of men, I wanted to get out of myself, I wanted to write. I had absolutely to have an end to that agitated past."
It is important to report, as well, that Morocco is apparently cleaing up its act with regard to torture:
Together with the Moroccan Ministry of Justice, the APT organised a second seminar on the criminalisation of torture in the country, which took place in Rabat on 15-16 December. Morocco has taken an important step to bring its legislation in line with the UN Convention against Torture (CAT) in 2006, by criminalising torture in national law. In the framework of the implementation of this reform, the seminar brought together over 40 judges, prosecutors, police officers, prison staff and the gendarmerie royale.
On the basis of presentations made by national and international experts, participants analysed the definition of torture as it is described in the CAT and the Moroccan penal code. They also discussed the necessary procedures to make the absolute prohibition of torture valid, insisting on the fact that torture can’t be justified in any case. Based on the fruitful discussions which took place during the seminar, the APT and the Ministry of Justice are going to draft a guide for legal administration staff in Morocco.
To my mind, however, that only makes Mohamed's diary and claims more credible. It is not believable that the United States was unaware that he would be tortured when he was transferred to Morocco.
It is, unfortunately, all too believable that the current administration is trying to cover up the misdeeds of the previous one.
Because, perhaps you never know when you might need to have somebody tortured by our friends and allies around the world.
I can't decide if it's the practice or the sanctimony with which the current administration condemned its predecessor that makes me more ill.