Saturday, February 7, 2009

U.S. Threatens UK Justice?

Binyam Mohamed is a former resident of the UK and is currently a prisoner at Guantanamo.  Mr. Mohamed was arrested in Pakistan because British and U.S. intelligence thought that he was an accomplice in the Jose Padilla "dirty bomb" plot.  In an effort to extract a confession, Mr. Mohamed was sent to Morocco and Afghanistan through extraordinary rendition where he was tortured.  In early 2003, the U.S. imprisoned Mohamed in Guantanamo.  In May of 2008 Mr. Mohamed was charged in the Padilla plot but the US withdraw the charges in October.  Read a good summation here

In the UK, Mr. Mohamed's attorneys filed a motion to gather information from the UK government about their client's treatment.  Two UK high court judges released a summation of  Mr Mohamed's treatment that was based on information the U.S. shared with UK intelligence agencies.   The judges ruled that the evidence indicated that Mohamed was tortured or treated in a cruel and inhuman fashion.

However, the judges redacted that summary at the request of UK Foreign Minister David Miliband.  He argued that disclosing the information might harm UK security.  UK Channel 4 news acquired letters that US State Department legal advisor John Bellinger wrote to the UK Foreign Office that says that disclosure of the information about Mohamed's torture could threaten " the U.S.-UK intelligence sharing relationship, and thus the national security of the UK."

The Obama administration currently supports the actions of the previous Secretary of State and her legal advisor regarding this case.  That is simply an unacceptable position.  Hiding our conduct at Guantanamo is not protecting vital state secrets; it is covering up a crime.  President Obama has so far done a good job stepping U.S. policy back from the criminal excesses of the previous 7 years.  However, he needs to go further and do as the UK judges recommend and put the information about Binyam Mohamed in the public domain.

Andrew Sullivan  and David Rose at Vanity Fair do a good job reporting on this story.

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