Military Judge Orders Guantánamo Prisoners not to Talk in Court about being Tortured

Friday, December 14, 2012
Colonel James Pohl

The Obama administration has won a critical ruling in the upcoming military trial of the September 11, 2001, plotters that will keep the defendants from testifying about being tortured.


The Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation asked the military judge, Colonel James Pohl, to censor any statements from the detainees going on trial that reveal how they were tortured or abused by the U.S.


Pohl agreed with the agencies that classified information should not be disclosed during the proceedings, including any details about the use of interrogation techniques on the defendants.


A total of five men, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, currently held at Guantánamo Bay will go on trial for planning or aiding in the 9/11 attacks.


Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) National Security Program, responded negatively towards Pohl’s ruling.


“We’re profoundly disappointed by the military judge’s decision, which didn’t even address the serious First Amendment issues at stake here. The government wanted to ensure that the American public would never hear the defendants’ accounts of illegal CIA torture, rendition and detention, and the military judge has gone along with that shameful plan.”


The ACLU said it plans to appeal the decision.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Judge Rules Torture Testimony at Guantanamo Military Commission Can Be Censored (by Kevin Gosztola, The Dissenter)

Testimony on CIA’s Treatment of 9/11 Suspects Will Be Kept Secret, Judge Rules (by Peter Finn, Washington Post)

Obama Administration Declares All Statements by 9/11 Accused “Presumptively Classified” (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Pentagon Wants Military Tribunal to Hide that Defendant Will Not be Freed if Found Innocent (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Guantánamo Judge Confirms Use of Torture (AllGov)


Bima 10 years ago
, I do not see that those articles prelcude the form of interrogation you referred to. If you'll pardon my saying so, partially quoting me doesn't make your objection any more poignant. The full quote: [T]andem psychological not physical assault on the protective mechanisms of a criminal's infantile ego, is essential to my point and also to whether or not it would violate Geneva. This interrogation style does not call for threats or abuse of any kind. And, as I stated earlier, those things are in fact detrimental to the interrogation because they stiffen psychological resistance to inquiry and create tells for suspects looking to figure out what it is interrogators want to hear. The reason this interrogation style is particularly effective is that the criminal mentality is an extremely rudimentary structure. Think along the lines of dealing with the mental complexity of a child 96 a dangerous child. The ability to negotiate 93good94 and 93bad94 signals coming from the same people is not something that criminals do well because they viscerally understand people in stark terms, they see others as 93marks94 or fellow predators to be avoided. The 91bad cop92 role, then, isn92t defined by the behaviour of the interrogator 96 it92s projected onto them because they are the one making the suspect uncomfortable. Unpleasant stressors can be as simple as breaking a suspect92s psychological rhythm by narrowing the eyes unexpectedly, excusing yourself from the room momentarily at a moment when the suspect thinks he92s got your rapt attention, forcing a suspect to recount insignificant details over and over. These are the things that rattle nerves and keep suspects off balance enough to be uncomfortable, but not perceiving any specific threat. The 93good cop94 is only 93good94 to the criminal because, as the interrogation wears on, the suspect is not getting hard, unpleasant sensations from this interrogator. Because this interrogator is perceived as sympathetic, the suspect starts to see them as a 93mark94 to be conned. And that is the suspect92s first and most significant major miscalculation 96 he or she92s primed to make many, many more throughout the remainder of the interrogation. This is a dance, not a fight. You don92t break this suspect92s mind; you seduce it away from its natural defenses and into believing it92s still in control. And Geneva does not prelcude it, not that I can see.

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