US torture disclosure dilemma: film versus facts

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, wearing a camouflage vest, sitting in the courtroom in Guantanamo in October. Former Guantanamo chief prosecutor Morris Davis has demanded that testimony be made public.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, wearing a camouflage vest, sitting in the courtroom in Guantanamo in October. Former Guantanamo chief prosecutor Morris Davis has demanded that testimony be made public. (Graphic: AFP)

You’ve probably noticed I don’t, generally, hold positive opinions about the moral high ground of the USA, in all respects. It’s not to do with American people (several of whom I know, and admire, personally); it is, rather, about the official attitudes those people in power display and their arrogant (supply your own favoured adjective) behaviour.

So, here’s a vexed one! Disclosure, or not? Transparency, or not? The truth (unvarnished), or not?

A report from Spiegel Online International (SOI) gently, but meticulously, unpicks a moral and operational dilemma faced by various US “big suits”. Some, including Obama, come out of it quite well (he’s so frequently accused of not being able to achieve anything during his first term as President). Others – as patronising, inimical individuals who, basically, have no regard for democratic responsibility or respect.

So, I urge you to take a couple of minutes to read a most perceptive article – before you all rush to the cinema to see “Zero Dark Thirty”. And note what Senator McCain (remember him?) has to say!

Two quotes from the SOI article

“There is currently a confluence of events that will focus attention on America’s post-9/11 record of torture: a trial, a congressional report and a movie. Will they end up contributing to a more accurate accounting of what happened over the past decade? Or… ”

“On Dec. 6, 2012, Colonel James Pohl, the judge in the military commission trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM) and four others charged along with him, ruled that anything an accused says in court about his treatment while in US detention is classified information that must be shielded from public disclosure. He upheld the continued use of a 40-second audio delay so such information does not get into the public domain. So much for the transparency part of the Office of Military Commissions motto: “Fairness — Transparency — Justice.”[1] [My emphasis]

Meanwhile, let us not forget that several European governments (including the UK) have been shown to be involved in ‘secret rendition’ and other such miserable – disgusting – activities.

[1]: Spiegel Online International

Image:  Spiegel Online International/AFP

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, wearing a camouflage vest, sitting in the courtroom in Guantanamo in October. Former Guantanamo chief prosecutor Morris Davis has demanded that testimony be made public.

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