US Seeks Death for Tortured Guantanamo Detainees

The United States is seeking the death penalty for six detainees that the government claims were involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks. The detainees will be tried before a military tribunal that was created under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which effectively created a justice system outside the realm of traditional American courts.

At least two of the detainees, Mohammed al Qahtani and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, are known to have been tortured. CBS News reported Monday, "Last week, for the first time, the Bush administration acknowledged that [Khalid Shaikh] Mohammed was among three suspects who were waterboarded." That was when CIA Director Michael Hayden told the Senate Intelligence Committee that "Waterboarding has been used on only three detainees. ... We used it against these three high-value detainees because of the circumstances of the time."

The American Civil Liberties Union says that the Military Commissions Act "permits convictions based on evidence that was literally beaten out of a witness, or obtained through other abuse by either the federal government or by other countries."

The Center for Constitutional Rights, the defense lawers for Mohammed al Qahtani issued a statement today saying,
"For the past six years, the United States government has refused to conduct traditional criminal trials or courts martial against Guantanamo detainees suspected of wrongdoing.

Instead, the military commissions at Guantanamo allow secret evidence, hearsay evidence, and evidence obtained through torture. They are unlawful, unconstitutional, and a perversion of justice. Now the government is seeking to execute people based on this utterly unreliable and tainted evidence: it is difficult to imagine a more morally reprehensible system. Executions based on secret trials and torture evidence belong to another century. These barbaric sham proceedings will likely to inflame the controversy surrounding Guantanamo and draw the condemnation of even our allies...

Mohammed Al Qahtani has been at Guantánamo for almost six years. He was subject to the ‘First Special Interrogation Plan,’ which consisted of a regime of ‘aggressive interrogation methods’ personally approved by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that constitute torture. These tactics, revealed in a government interrogation log for Mr. Al Qahtani, include:

• Beatings
• Severe sleep deprivation combined with 20-hour interrogations for months at a time
• Threats of rendition to other countries that torture
• Explicit threats made against his family, including female members of his family
• Strip searches, body searches and forced nudity, at times in the presence of female personnel
• Sexual humiliation
• Humiliation by forcing him to bark like a dog, dance with a mask on his face, and pick up piles of trash with his hands cuffed while he was called “a pig”
• Denial of the right to practice his religion, including prohibiting him from praying for prolonged times and during Ramadan
• Threats to desecrate the Koran in front of him
• Attacks by dogs
• Forcible administration of frequent IVs by medical personnel during interrogation
• Being placed in acute stress positions for hours at a time
• Being placed in tight restraints repeatedly for many months or days and nights
• Exposure to low temperatures for extended periods of time
• Exposure to loud music for prolonged times
• At least 160 days of severe isolation"