Bill Moyers provides an update to the segment offered last week on torture and detainees in the War on Terror™. Mohammed al-Qahtani--long held up as the 20th hijacker on 9/11--was released from Guantanamo without prejudice after more than six years of imprisonment and torture.
"Mr al-Qahtani never made a single statement that was not extracted through torture or the threat of torture," the Centre for Constitutional Rights, which represented al-Qahtani, said.
Mohammed al-Qahtani was one of the six terrorism suspects for whom the Defense Department had famously sought the death penalty in an attempt to look tough (or at least, competent) in prosecuting terrorists. However, it appears that since the government's case rested largely on "confessions" achieved through torture, and thankfully, justice has not been perverted by this administration enough to convict them solely on those extracted confessions.
This is an excellent time to let you know that next week, I'll be participating in a week-long symposium focusing on torture with other bloggers to celebrate the relaunch of the ACLU Blog of Rights.
Transcript below the fold
BILL MOYERS: Now I want to update some of the stories we've been reporting over recent weeks.
You'll recall that last week I interviewed the international lawyer Philippe Sands. He had just testified in Congress about his book TORTURE TEAM. The book is based on his conversations with the Bush administration insiders responsible for the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" - torture - on detainees at Guantanamo. Sands mentioned in particular Detainee 063 - Mohammed al-Qahtani....suspected of being the missing "20th hijacker" in the 9/11 attacks. The administration offered al-Qahtani as proof that coercion works, and the White House said he had provided "valuable intelligence." But Sands knew differently...
PHILIPPE SANDS: I do have actual information on Detainee 063. I spent time, as I describe in the book, with the head of Mohammed al-Qahtani's exploitation team. And the bottom line of it was, contrary to what the administration said, they got nothing out of him.
BILL MOYERS: This week, after al-Qahtani had been in confinement for over six years, the charges against him were dismissed "without prejudice" by the presiding authority for military commissions. No reason was given, but it's being speculated that the evidence obtained by al-Qahtani's torture would not stand up in court. This is just one reason, many people argue that such trials should be more open and moved out of the military courts. In the meantime, Philippe Sands has written an incisive essay on these events of the week. We've posted it on our web site at pbs.org.