Crime & Justice

US Supreme Court says gov’t can block testimony in torture case

Washington, Mar 3 (EFE).- The United States Supreme Court ruled Thursday against an attempt by a Guantanamo Bay detainee who was tortured by the CIA to compel testimony from two government contractors about the abuse he suffered.

Abu Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in March 2002 and remains in US custody two decades later, despite his having never been charged with any crime.

Though the administration of then-President George W. Bush described Zubaydah as a senior figure in al-Qaeda who was involved in planning the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the CIA acknowledged in 2006 that the Saudi-born Palestinian was not an al-Qaeda member.

In a 2014 report, the Senate Intelligence Committee revealed that Zubaydah was the first detainee to undergo what the CIA and the Bush administration called “enhanced interrogation.”

The prisoner was waterboarded at least 83 times and forced to spend more than 11 days in a “coffin-size confinement box.”

Zubaydah was held at several clandestine sites before being taken to Guantanamo, including a facility in Poland, where lawyers representing him have initiated a criminal case against Polish officials who cooperated with the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program.

Zubaydah’s attorneys asked the Supreme Court to call a halt to the US government’s efforts to block a Polish court’s subpoena for psychologists Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, who devised the enhanced interrogation techniques for the CIA under an $80 million contract.

But by a vote of 6-3, the high court accepted the claim of the government that testimony from Jessen and Mitchell would reveal information that the executive is permitted to withhold under the doctrine known as the state secrets privilege.

The government provided a “reasonable explanation” of why the disclosure “could significantly harm national security interests, even if that information has already been made public through unofficial sources,” according to the majority opinion, written by Justice Stephen Breyer.

The existence of the CIA “black site” in Stare Kiejkuty, Poland, has been reported in the media and documented in reports by the US Congress and Amnesty International. EFE bpm/dr

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