Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another bizarre twist in the Binyam Mohamed case.

The Guardian:

"US defence officials are preventing Barack Obama from seeing evidence that a former British resident held in Gantanmao Bay has been tortured, the prisoner's lawyer said last night . . . In the letter to the president [PDF] , Stafford Smith urges him to order the disclosure of the evidence.

Stafford Smith tells Obama he should 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 US personnel. This decision is being made by the very people who you command.'

It is understood US defence officials might have censored the evidence to protect the president from criminal liability or political embarrassment."

So, in other words, the Pentagon is either trying to provide Obama with "plausible deniability," or someone is trying to protect BushCo from prosecution. In either case, what kind of popcorn stand is Obama running here?

Last I checked, he was the commander in chief.

And speaking of state's secrets: Remember the Obama administration is backing BushCo's stand in the case before the ninth circuit in San Fransisco regarding the torture of -- guess who -- Binyam Mohamed.

From the Empty Wheel:

"Congressmembers Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Thomas Petri (WI-6), House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-14), Bill Delahunt (MA-10) and Zoe Lofgren (CA-16) today reintroduced legislation that would ensure meaningful judicial determination of the state secrets privilege. The bi-partisan State Secret Protection Act of 2009 would curb abuse of the privilege while providing protection for valid state secrets.

'The Administration's decision this week to adopt its predecessor's argument that the state secret privilege requires the outright dismissal of a case challenging rendition to torture was a step in the wrong direction and a reminder that legislation is required to ensure meaningful review of the state secret privilege,' said Rep. Nadler.

'This important bill recognizes that protecting sensitive information is an important responsibility for any administration and requires that courts protect legitimate state secrets while preventing the premature and sweeping dismissal of entire cases. The right to have one's day in court is fundamental to protecting basic civil liberties and it must not be sacrificed to overbroad claims of secrecy.'"

I'd say we're in desperate need of some congressional oversight and the imposition of the rule of law, at this point, if the above story is any indication.


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