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On March 22, Judge James Robertson, reviewing the habeas corpus petition of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, concluded that the United States had failed to produce sufficient evidence to justify his detention. The Justice Department apparently relied heavily on statements made by Slahi during his detention by the CIA and subsequently in the military prison at Guantánamo. He was the thirty-fourth prisoner to prevail against the United States in the habeas process. Writing in the Miami Herald, Carol Rosenberg notes that Judge Robertson’s opinion is still undergoing declassification and therefore is unavailable. However, she offers some well-grounded speculation about the basis of the case:
[Slahi’s] name was already well known because of investigations into detainee abuse. Those probes found Slahi had been subjected to sleep deprivation, exposed to extremes of heat and cold, moved around the base blindfolded, and at one point taken into the bay on a boat and threatened with death. Investigators also found interrogators had told him they would arrest his mother and have her jailed as the only female detainee at Guantánamo if he did not cooperate. The interrogations were so abusive a highly regarded Pentagon lawyer, Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, quit the case five years ago rather than prosecute him at the Bush administration’s first effort to stage military commissions.
The Slahi case is a good demonstration of the problems that the regime of state-sanctioned torture produces when prosecutors wade into legal proceedings attempting to make use of evidence extracted when torture has been used. This very failure will likely be used by the administration to justify a regime of preventive detention. For the moment, however, the Obama Justice Department is satisfying itself with an appeal.
In Sherry Jones’s documentary “Torturing Democracy,” the Slahi case is very effectively recapped. The outcome of the habeas process was obvious even when this first aired more than a year ago:
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Average speed of Heinz ketchup, from the mouth of an upended bottle, in miles per year:
After studying the fall of 64,000 individual raindrops, scientists found that some small raindrops fall faster than they ought to.
The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”