The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

ACLU to Argue Against Use of Evidence Obtained Through Torture in Federal Court

June 30, 2009 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

The American Civil Liberties Union will file a brief tomorrow urging the federal court to suppress evidence gathered using torture, which the government wants to rely on in the case of Mohammed Jawad, the boy who “confessed” to throwing a grenade at U.S. soldiers after being arrested and tortured by Afghan authorities in 2002, then turned over to U.S. authorities for more abuse.

Also tomorrow, after numerous delays, the Obama administration is expected to produce a much-anticipated 2004 CIA inspector general’s report with more details and criticism of the Bush administration’s interrogation tactics.

As I explained in my last post on the Jawad case, the Obama administration is trying to keep holding Jawad — who’s been in U.S. custody without charge for almost seven years — based on those tortured confessions, which even a military judge previously deemed too unreliable to use in his military commission case.

The ACLU will argue tomorrow that the federal judge in Jawad’s habeas corpus case should rule that evidence gathered through torture is still too unreliable — and therefore inadmissible — to be the basis for continuing to keep him in prison indefinitely.

Although the Jawad case appears to be the first in which the Obama is seeking to rely on evidence obtained through torture, it’s just one of many examples of the government’s refusal to acknowledge the legacy of torture under the Bush administration — and its consequences.

There are, of course, the now-notorious photographs of detainee abuse that the Obama administration has kept from being released, despite the orders of a federal court to turn them over. And then there’s the fact, which Glenn Greenwald, Marcy Wheeler, Daily Kos and John Sifton have been writing about, that there are a whole lot of unsolved murders and mysterious autopsy reports concerning the brutal deaths of detainees in U.S. custody, for which almost no one has been held accountable.

In many cases, these deaths weren’t the result of waterboarding or some other act that Obama administration officials have admitted are torture; they seem to have been the result of ordinary “enhanced” interrogations:  beatings, stress positions, food and sleep deprivation and the like.

According to a report from Human Rights First, about 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody since August 2002, but only 12 deaths have resulted in punishment of any kind for U.S. officials.

The ACLU has embarked on an important campaign for accountability for the torture and abuse that U.S. officials have inflicted on detainees. That includes ongoing efforts to unearth more information, to press for prosecutions of those who authorized the abuse, and to compensate the victims, many of whom, like Jawad, still remain in U.S. custody.

Tomorrow’s brief arguing that tortured evidence shouldn’t be the basis for continuing to hold detainees is a small but important step.

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