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Of Torture, Terror, And Law…Oh My!

On Monday, we will have the next installment of First Monday — a series of discussions on the rule of law, coordinated with the Alliance for Justice.

This coming Monday, August 4th, at 3:00 pm ET/noon PT, our guest will be Vince Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and some folks from the ACLU — all of whom have been working diligently over the last few years for civil liberties for American citizens and those we detain and to restore the rule of law.  

So, mark your calendars — it’s going to be a great discussion.

Ben Wizner of the ACLU has been blogging from Gitmo this week, where he is working on the Hamdan case.  Salon has an update from there as well, including this:

…Although Allred acknowledged in a ruling issued the day before trial that Hamdan was subjected to "various types of coercive treatment," he overruled the objection to the tapes, saying that the rules allow the admission of coerced testimony if it is deemed "reliable" and "the interests of justice." Those tapes, he concluded, served the interest of justice and were allowed in. Never mind the coercion. 

Defenders of the military commission process will point to other statements that Allred has excluded from trial, because they were coerced, to argue that the process is fair. But with some evidence admitted that was clearly obtained through coercion, those claims ring hollow.

Although the videos were entered into the record, aired in court, and viewed by those in the gallery, the Department of Defense will not release them to the general public. According to one Pentagon source, the DoD is withholding them out of an "abundance of caution." Perhaps the DoD fears that the American public will know a coercive interrogation when it sees one?

The WaPo has more.  And, according to McClatchy, the defense rested today in the Hamdan trial, with testimony on paper coming from Khalid Sheik Mohammed:

”He was not a soldier, he was a driver,” Mohammed said in an English translation of his written testimony.

"He was not fit to plan or execute. But he is fit to change trucks’ tires, change oil filters, wash and clean cars and fasten cargo in pickup trucks.”

Odd, and it underscores the unusual nature of these proceedings from the outset. Definitely something we can talk about on Monday with our guests. 

Marty Lederman of Balkinization and Gabor Rona of Human Rights First tackle indefinite detention and the Al-Marri case. Great reads.

Meanwhile, is it any wonder that allies such as Britain and Canada are now questioning US representations on any number of intel issues, given that allegations of yet another series of US lies to Britain have surfaced?  This time, it looks like Gen. Hayden of the CIA on the "not so honest" hook, but this isn’t the first time something like this has surfaced.  Spencer has much more.

Jack Balkin has some analysis on the recent RAND report on militarism versus rule of law in the age of terror — and concludes:

The irony is that the Bush Administration has devoted itself to eliminating the threat of terrorism using as much military force as it can muster, by refusing to characterize the problem as one of law enforcement, and by perpetuating and even increasing the American military presence in the Middle East. If the RAND report is to be believed, the Bush Administration has systematically chosen the worst policies in the last seven years.

Funny how that "might does not equal right" concept keeps coming back to haunt us.

(YouTube — Part I of the Democracy Now! interview with Philippe Sands.  Part II is here. Interview transcript here, with a later interview transcript here.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com