A federal appeals court has ruled that a detainee was held on secret evidence that proved to be not much evidence at all:
In the first case to review the government’s secret evidence for holding a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a federal appeals court found that accusations against a Muslim from western China held for more than six years were based on bare and unverifiable claims. The unclassified parts of the decision were released on Monday.
With some derision for the Bush administration’s arguments, a three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.
Jeez. Sounds like the “triple-sourcing” on a Chuck Philips story.
The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a character in the Lewis Carroll poem “The Hunting of the Snark”: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”
“This comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true,” said the panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The remedy: release, transfer to a new country, or a new hearing.
Add this to the Kafkaseque nature of the tribunals process, which has forced detainees to respond to secret evidence, together with the criticism by a former chief prosecutor that the Administration was rigging trials there to ensure convictions, and the picture is not pretty.
By the way, this ruling is a product of a three-judge panel that includes two judges appointed by Republicans. What’s more, it is not a consequence of the Boumediene decision:
The appellate panel reviewed Mr. Parhat’s case under a limited procedure Congress provided for challenging military hearings at Guantánamo. The case was argued before the Supreme Court’s decision on June 12 that detainees have a constitutional right to seek release in more expansive habeas corpus proceedings.
But if this sort of evidence is any indication of what courts will see in habeas hearings, those could be ugly. We could start getting “Through the Looking Glass” quotes.
In further detainee follies, we have our first charges in the USS Cole bombing. We’re seeking the death penalty. What possible defense could the detainee have? You guessed it: his claim is that his confession was tortured out of him.
As I have pointed out before, while torture could be necessary in the cartoonish “24” situation to save lives, when applied as a general interrogation technique, it’s likely to result in confessions being ruled inadmissible. As I said:
when you’re doing your weighing and balancing, realize that you could be throwing any admissible evidence down the drain. If you’re saving millions, it’s probably worth it. If you’re not saving anyone, then you might consider that the risks outweigh the benefits.
Let’s hope that what remains in the USS Cole case, if the confession is tossed out, doesn’t end up getting compared to some Lewis Carroll story.