Wednesday, April 26, 2006

twisted logic

Moussaoui, I have no doubt, will be sentenced to death sometime in the next few days. And if he is, this will be despite the fact that he was in jail on September 11th, 2001, despite the fact that he seems to have been a bit player in the planning of September 11th, 2001 and not the mastermind that he claims, and despite the fact that though he is clearly, if evil, also off his rocker and just dying (quite literally) to be a martyr. And all of this also despite the fact that apparently the United States has in its custody two of the men who actually were deeply involved in the September 11th terrorist attacks but whom our government has chosen not to bring to trial.

But wait. It gets even weirder. Moussaoui's defense team has submitted evidence - testimony from these two men in U.S. custody. They claim that Moussaoui didn't have much to do with the plannning of or the execution of the September 11th plot, that they themselves are responsible. But here's the clincher. This testimony was most likely obtained under torture. That's right. The U.S. government tortured these guys, they took responsibility, and now that testimony is being used against the U.S. government who is prosecuting this other guy for the same crimes. And the suspicious-minded amongst us might wonder--how did the defense get this testimony in the first place? And to what purpose? I would assume that the CIA is not just handing out secret intelligence to defense lawyers, certainly not in this administration. And yet. Maybe, just maybe, the government wants to set a precedent for trials to include testimony obtained through torture, but couldn't play that card on its own. Besides, this particular testimony hurts their case, though probably not enough to prevent an execution.

This from the April 17th New York Times:

"As the jury considered whether Mr. Moussaoui, the only person to be charged in an American courtroom with the Sept. 11 plot, was involved in it enough to serve as a proxy for the 19 hijackers who died that day, no one mentioned an obvious issue. What about the involvement of those who gave testimony about the plot who are in American custody? Why aren't they on trial?

The answer, not shared with the jury, is that these Qaeda officials, who include another financier and the man who was supposed to be the 20th hijacker, are being held overseas in the Central Intelligence Agency's secret prison system and have been subjected to interrogation techniques that would make it difficult to bring them to trial."

I can only imagine what those techniques may have been, and the results they may have had, but I find that last line, in all of its simplicity, to be one of the most chilling things I have ever read. And this is not the Soviet gulag, or a Latin American dictatorship, or a Chinese cultural revolution re-education program. This is our country.

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