Jennifer Turner at the ACLU argues that "although President Obama promised transparency and sharp limits on the use of tortured and coerced statements against the accused," a detainee captured during the Bush years and sentenced earlier this week at Guantanamo Bay continues America's pattern of abuse.
Khadr, then 15 years old, was taken to Bagram near death, after being shot twice in the back, blinded by shrapnel, and buried in rubble from a bomb blast. He was interrogated within hours, while sedated and handcuffed to a stretcher. He was threatened with gang rape and death if he didn't cooperate with interrogators. He was hooded and chained with his arms suspended in a cage-like cell, and his primary interrogator was later court-martialed for detainee abuse leading to the death of a detainee. During his subsequent eight-year (so far) detention at Guantánamo, Khadr was subjected to the "frequent flyer" sleep deprivation program and he says he was used as a human mop after he was forced to urinate on himself.
In closing arguments before the judge's ruling, Khadr's sole defense lawyer, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, told the judge, "Sir, be a voice today. Tell the world that we actually stand for what we say we stand for."
Though President Obama promised that coerced evidence would not be used against detainees in the military commissions, today's ruling suggests that as a country, we stand for abusing a 15-year-old teenager into confessing, and using those confessions against him in an illegitimate proceeding.
The danger of torture is not just the act of torture. It is the way in which the powerful can produce the confessions they want. And the necessity of proving, in this case, that imprisoning and torturing a 15 year-old was not a mistake makes the government double down even further. What happens is that physical force is introduced into the system of alleged justice. There is no justice then; just power.
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