If Binyam Mohamed hadn’t been tortured in this scenario, it might be funny:
A British ‘resident’ held at Guantanamo Bay was identified as a terrorist after confessing he had visited a ‘joke’ website on how to build a nuclear weapon, it was revealed last night.
Binyam Mohamed, a former UK asylum seeker, admitted to having read the ‘instructions’ after allegedly being beaten, hung up by his wrists for a week and having a gun held to his head in a Pakistani jail.
It was this confession that apparently convinced the CIA that they were holding a top Al Qaeda terrorist.
This is the British case that was in the news last week when the justices held that documents pertaining to Mohamed’s interrogation could not be made public because the US threatened to stop sharing intelligence with the British if they gave up its “state secrets”. By the way, this was the policy of the Bush administration but Barack Obama has adopted it to the apparent dismay of the British court.
The “build a nuclear bomb” article in question was a satirical piece written by Barbara Ehrenreich, Rolling Stone journalist Peter Biskind and scientist Michio Kaku. It claims that a nuclear weapon can be made ‘using a bicycle pump’ and with liquid uranium ‘poured into a bucket and swung round’. It was published in the American magazine Seven Days and was later available on many websites.
Don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t be acceptable to torture someone for a better reason. Still, this does add insult to injury. If anyone thinks that the US has its hands tied because the real reasons for Mohamed’s detention and torture can’t be revealed in order to protect national security, think again. The story is coming out anyway, as these stories so often do. At this point, I can only think the US doesn’t want to acknowledge the sheer stupidity of its buffons-in-action, post 9/11. Better we should think they at least thought they had good reason to be freaked out, a lá that most serious and altruistic of torturers, Jack Bauer.
UPDATE: The wonderfully lucid Glenn Greenwald provides an excellent synopsis of the way the Bush administration, and now the Obama adminisration, used the State Secrets Act –
What was abusive and dangerous about the Bush administration’s version of the States Secret privilege — just as the Obama/Biden campaign pointed out — was that it was used not (as originally intended) to argue that specific pieces of evidence or documents were secret and therefore shouldn’t be allowed in a court case, but instead, to compel dismissal of entire lawsuits in advance based on the claim that any judicial adjudication of even the most illegal secret government programs would harm national security. That is the theory that caused the bulk of the controversy when used by the Bush DOJ — because it shields entire government programs from any judicial scrutiny — and it is that exact version of the privilege that the Obama DOJ yesterday expressly advocated (and, by implication, sought to preserve for all Presidents, including Obama).