Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gitmo Judge Admits Confession Extracted By Rape Threat

Think Progress courtesy of AlterNet:

In the first full war crimes tribunal of the Obama administration, a military judge held that a detainee who confessed to killing an American solider after he was threatened with being gang-raped to death if he did not cooperate may nonetheless have that confession used against him at trial...


Khadr was only 15 years old at the time of his capture and confession, earing his tribunal a strong condemnation from the United Nations. In the words of the UN, “Juvenile justice standards are clear. Children should not be tried before military tribunals.”


A few observations.

There is every good reason to believe that Khadr feared this threat: Reporter Seymour Hersh, who broke the Abu Ghraib scandal, has asserted that the Pentagon possesses video tapes of children being sodomized at the US Army torture chamber in Baghdad; just as we now know that American torture under Bush was systematic, using similar techniques in both Iraq and Guantanamo, it is reasonable to conclude that people were raped at Gitmo, too. As the article goes on to observe, coerced confessions are notoriously unreliable. There's a damned good reason such "confessions" are inadmissible in civilian trials: they help convict innocent people.

For that matter, why the fuck is this guy being tried in this bullshit "military tribunal" format, anyway? He was doing grunt work for Al Qaeda, which is a criminal organization, not an army. "Military tribunals" were frighteningly inappropriate when Bush first started using them, and they continue to be frighteningly inappropriate under his "liberal" successor. Furthermore, how is it a "war crime" to return fire against a soldier who is trying to kill you? War crimes are about torture, or abusing POWs, or deliberately targeting civilians, or using banned weapons such as napalm or white phosphorous, you know, stuff that US forces have done repeatedly in Iraq and Afghanistan, not fighting back against an invading force.

This entire process is a disgusting farce. True terrorists should be tried in real courts for their crimes, and accessories, too, for helping them. But these bogus "military tribunals," which try unsuccessfully to invoke the gravity and justice and patriotism of the Nuremberg Trials, are just plain wrong. It is also wrong to treat a fifteen year old as though he were an adult. Yeah yeah, he's twenty three now, but he was just a kid when he was captured, and was clearly neck deep in weird religious philosophy he couldn't possibly understand. Just what the hell are we trying to prove here?

Why is Obama doing this?