Government Lost 8 of 15 Gitmo Cases Involving Forced Interrogation

Pro Publica Reporter Chisun Lee has the results of a Pro Publica study into the decisions of federal judges in habeas cases filed by Guantanamo Detainees involving the admission of evidence obtained through enhanced interrogation techniques. The results: Out of the 31 cases with published decisions, the Government lost 8 of the 15 cases in which there were claimed forcible interrogations.

The 15 decisions offer the most detailed accounting to date of how information obtained from the Guantanamo inmates through controversial tactics is standing up in court. They come in cases initiated by detainees seeking release via a writ of habeas corpus, not cherry-picked by prosecutors. Criminal law experts say the judges' opinions help explain why the government has decided not to pursue criminal convictions against some detainees. Such evidence would pose even greater problems in criminal trials, for which requirements of proof are more demanding.

Here's a chart of the cases and rulings. More than 50 prisoner cases are still pending. [More...]

Pro Publica also has this master database of the 53 cases, with links to documents and information about the detainees.

Thirty-eight of the men were found to be eligible for release, but one man’s victory was reversed when the government appealed.

Sixteen detainees have lost their cases. Of the 37 men now judged to be unlawfully imprisoned, 13 remain in indefinite detention, in some cases while the government appeals the rulings. (Their names are in red.)

Why this is an continuing problem: The detainees in many of these cases may never be charged but still be subject to indefinite detention.

The Obama administration has already said that at least 48 of the remaining 176 prisoners at Guantanamo will be held indefinitely because they're too dangerous to release but can't be prosecuted successfully in military or civilian court. They've said that coercion-tainted evidence is one obstacle.

Really impressive work by Pro Publica. For those of you not familiar with Pro Publica, it is a Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit news organization publishing investigative journalism. Their work has been featured by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, among others. This article by Chisum Lee is also being featured in the National Law Journal.

I've been reading and blogging about articles written by Chisun Lee since 2003 when she wrote for the Village Voice. Some examples:

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    Thanks, Jeralyn (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by oculus on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 01:07:06 AM EST

    What oculus said -- this is a real service of good (none / 0) (#13)
    by jawbone on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 11:35:00 AM EST
    blogs, bringing to our attention good writing on important issues.

    A few questions: (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by lentinel on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 05:31:32 AM EST
    Has the Obama administration given us any indication at all about why they consider certain prisoners "too dangerous" to release if they don't have enough evidence to even present to any court?

    Are they political prisoners? Shades of the Bush era.

    I also wonder why we on the left must resort to Bush-Orwellian terms such as "enhanced interrogation techniques"? Why do we have to accept these euphemisms for torture?

    "Coercion-tainted" is kind of quaint, I must admit.

    Add (none / 0) (#5)
    by lentinel on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 05:33:29 AM EST
    I would like to add that I too appreciate your keeping us informed as to what is happening.

    I concur wholeheartedly in this comment (none / 0) (#6)
    by scribe on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 08:55:04 AM EST
    and would remind everyone that we should not facilitate the use of euphemisms such as "enhanced interrogation" or "forced interrogation" or whatever is the trendy usage this month.

    Let's also remember who first came up with the term "enhanced interrogation" to describe torture.  It was not the Bush administration.  It was the Gestapo.

    As to why some prisoners are "too dangerous to release", the question is "too dangerous to whom/what?"  In their case, they are "too dangerous" probably because they are actually innocent of anything and the most dangerous prisoner is the one who is incarcerated while being innocent, because he is the prisoner who undermines every rationalization for anything and everything the government has done to him.


    First two graphs (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 09:12:57 AM EST
    here I agree with entirely.

    The last strikes me as pretty tinfoil hat.  I can easily come up with any number of far less dishonest reasons-- ie, "they" might have extremely good evidence someone is a real bad guy that they can't put out, mainly the good old "sources and methods" problem.

    Whether that concern should or shouldn't be enough to keep someone imprisoned indefinitely without legal challenge is, God knows, open to debate.

    But even the Bush administration released large numbers of people they figured out weren't guilty of anything and no danger to us or anybody else, so I have a hard time believing there are people being kept solely because they know they're innocent.


    If they can do it to any one of them (none / 0) (#8)
    by scribe on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 09:27:04 AM EST
     - keep them detained indefinitely without chargng, let alone convicting, them, that is - they can do it to you.

    Because all the fine distinctions and rationalizations and waffle and spin and bullsh*t reduce out to one thing - the outside-judicial-review whim of some flunky of the President is that this person is indefinitely incarcerated and that one not.


    Change the subject? (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 01:07:45 PM EST
    I don't disagree with that at all.

    I was disagreeing with your assertion that they must be keeping people they know are innocent because it would be embarrassing to have to admit they were.

    I note that you don't care to defend that assertion but switch to railing against indefinite detention without trial on any grounds.  Go tell it to Newtie and Sarah.  You're just preaching, or railing, to the choir here on that.


    Thanks (none / 0) (#3)
    by NYShooter on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 04:42:48 AM EST
    for your diligent and inspired work in this critical field.

    But, having said that, why is it even an issue? Ever since I snuck downstairs to watch Capt. Video, and more appropriately, Capt. Kangaroo, a half century ago I knew confessions forced from accused suspects were worthless.

    Does it say that? (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 11:23:35 AM EST
    ....I knew confessions forced from accused suspects were worthless.

    According to this research, the government won convctions on about half the cases where force was alleged.  Does that mean that those defendants were lying when they said they were forced or does it mean that force was used and it worked?

    This study shows that it's a very mixed bag and will give both sides some fodder to chew on.


    The question, at least for me, is not (none / 0) (#19)
    by Anne on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 01:50:41 PM EST
    "are forced confessions worthless?" but "why are we forcing confessions in the first place?"

    We've known for forever that some people will confess to anything to make the torture stop; there isn't even any question about that.  

    As soon as you get into a qualitative argument, about the relative worth of torture and forced confessions, you are having the argument the torture proponents want to have; the only way to "win" the argument on torture is to have it on your terms - "torture is wrong and that is not what we should stand for."


    Go read my new diary (none / 0) (#9)
    by scribe on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 09:29:07 AM EST
    "An excerpt from an Army Field Manual" and compare what today's colonels and generals (and their predecessors during the Bush administration) used as a textbook, with how they behaved.

    Scribe, excellent diary. It should be (none / 0) (#10)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 10:49:03 AM EST
    required reading in Officers' Basic. Courses on the Geneva Convention and treatment of prisoners are4 still taught there, I thought.

    There was yearly training on this when I was in. Don't know what's happening now.


    It's from a textbook from (none / 0) (#14)
    by scribe on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 11:48:29 AM EST
    officer's basic/ROTC.  A verbatim quote.

    Dated 1976, I think you wrote. (none / 0) (#16)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 12:22:06 PM EST
    I have no idea of modifications since then. The armed forces took the Geneva Convention seriously then. I wonder about the emphasis placed on it now in OBC and in units during training. As I said, it used to be mandatory for everyone to receive a 4 hour bloc of training yearly on the Geneva Convention. Usually held in November, if I recall correctly, possibly February, though, and it was Army-wide, except for units in the field, who would make it up after rotating back to garrison.

    The Conventions haven't changed. (none / 0) (#17)
    by scribe on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 12:48:57 PM EST
    It may not be coincidence (none / 0) (#11)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 10:52:31 AM EST

    It may not be coincidence that we are seeing more drone attacks.  If locking up enemy combatants for the duration of the conflict is off or soon may be off the table, then the drone option may be administration's alternative.

    Yes, they seem to think (none / 0) (#15)
    by Edger on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 12:06:08 PM EST
    at least as much as the previous administration that creating more terrorists is the best way to keep the 'war on terror' rolling along and the MIC racket economy booming, don't they?