By Chris Giglio
A court decision in September not to grant an alleged victim of torture a trial is disappointing. The specific case involved Binyam Mohamed and addressed the C.I.A.’s practice of seizing terrorist suspects and moving them to foreign countries for interrogation.
The court feared a trial would expose too much classified information. Maybe some of the information should be kept secret, but there are details that need to be heard in court.
Details such as Mohamed’s allegation that he was handed over to Moroccan authorities and exposed to torture techniques such as having his penis cut with a scalpel. I wonder how that would go over in court.
People talk of the grey area between human rights and national security, but at some point we have to stand back and look at ourselves in the mirror. These are not actions we said “yes we can” to and these are not actions the United States should ever be associated with. Moving prisoners to other countries that do allow torture is no way for us to clean our hands of such actions.
It is time Obama make good on his promises of change and his continual rhetoric that respecting human rights is a fundamental difference between terrorist organizations and our country.
In the past, presidents have expanded executive secrecy powers to keep information out of court. But let’s be honest: terrorism is not a conventional enemy. Torture or no torture, terrorism is not going to be defeated anytime soon. When we do finally eliminate it, it will not be solely through military coercion, but through acts of compassion such as investment in economic development and the building of trust.
Until that day comes, we should not live in a country where the trampling of individuals’ human rights is accepted. But the responsibility to end these violations of human rights doesn’t just rest on Obama’s shoulders. It is the Supreme Court’s constitutional obligation to check Obama’s current abuse of executive secrecy powers. A similar case to Mohamed’s was brought to the Supreme Court in 2007 but was not granted an appeal.
I hope this time the Supreme Court and the American people realize the implications of allowing these abuses to continue: we stain our image around the world, we compromise the core values of our nation and we cross a moral boundary that should never be overstepped.