10 April 2006

Case Against Al-Marri Rooted In Torture

Slate reminds us that while Padilla has been released from custody as an enemy combatant, that Mr. Al-Marri, who has been in the criminal justice system before becoming the only other domestic individual detained as an enemy combatant (he was a legal immigrant on a student visa was detained as a material witness, and later was charged in a federal criminal indictment with various fraud offenses) is still there. And, as the prosecution has been forced, after years, to provide him with the full extent of the charges against him, it appears that they may have their basis in statements made by individuals who were being tortured by U.S. interrogators.

Magistrate Judge Robert C. Carr, appointed in 1975 during the Ford administration, called the government's bluff. "You need to make your choice, because this deals with a man's freedom," he told prosecutors at a teleconference with lawyers from both sides, held at the end of February. The judge's skepticism had swift effect. Prosecutors took another look at the classified parts of the Rapp Declarations and decided to make most of them public after all. . . . They link al-Marri to the 9/11 plotters via Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an al-Qaida member whom the CIA is holding in a secret prison. . . . Al-Marri's transfer from federal prison to brig is probably the result of what KSM told interrogators after al-Marri's 2002 indictment.

Which would mean it's also a safe bet that evidence against al-Marri was obtained through torture. A 2004 review by the CIA's inspector general found that Mohammed has been subjected to near-drowning while in custody (the term of art is "waterboarding").

Al-Marri was arrested in December 2001 in a civilian setting within the United States without a fight and unarmed. It is now more than four years later. He has yet to see any charges against him reviewed by a Court. The delay is unconscionable. The breach this case creates in the United States reputation for protecting human rights is a grave danger to our national security. Wars are won with allies. The first part of winning allies is to convince them that you are the good guy. The Bush Administration, however, seems hell bent on making our own government as frightening to our allies as the terrorists. This makes us weaker.

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