Monday, March 26, 2007

Guantanamo Detainee pleads guilty to terrorism charge

An Australian national David Hicks is now the first Guantanmo detainee who has been found guilty of a terrorism charge. Hicks confessed to supporting military support to the Al Qaeda. Of course supporters of the administration would state that this case proves that there is strength to the "tactics" employed in Guantanamo. However, I openly state that in my mind, torture is never justified, not even in the case of this "war on terrorism."
Let us look at the facts surrounding Mr. Hicks' case. Earlier in the day the military judge had surprised the courtroom with unexpected rulings that two of Mr. Hicks’s three lawyers would not be permitted to participate in the proceedings, leaving only the attorney Major Mori at the defense table. Hicks was captured in late 2001 in Afghanistan. It has been nearly six years since then. Are we truly naive enough to believe that Mr. Hicks was not in some way tortured in Guantanamo Bay? Was he coerced into taking this plea?
I am not saying that it is completely out of the question that he did indeed provide military support to the Al Qaeda. However, the fact remains that it is very likely that after being held in captivity for six years, in what can only be descirbed as inhumane conditions, the man simply broke. Congratulations to the military tribunal in achieving a favorable, fair and unbiased outcome.


zain said...

I am confused with the main idea of the post. On one hand the post suggests that Mr. Hicks assisted Al Qaeda, but on the other hand, the post says that "the man simply broke" in the face of torture and prison conditions. Is the author saying that Hicks is innocent and that prison conditions made him confess? And, what is meant by the statement that "torture is never justified." What is meant by torture here? and why can there be no exceptions? I want to discuss these issues, because I personally feel that we are being more cynical and less practical when we discuss issues like torture. We tend to criticize governments, but we do not consider the choices faced by the governments.

Malika said...

The author of the article states that Mr. Hicks assited the Al Qaeda. I am not one who is an expert on Mr. Hicks' past actions to either deny or confim this notion. However, I do have an opinion on torture. This past week I attended a conference at Northwestern University on this very subject:torture.

In the last few years, we have had to hear time and time again that maybe toruter is not such a bad thing. Scholars such as Dershowitz at Harvard have said that they condmen torutre from a "nominal standpoint." However, Dershowitz talks repeatedly about the "ticking bomb" scenario where a person has information that could save numerous lives, such as how to detonate a bomb, and that the only way we can get this information is by torturing the individual. There is a cost-benefit analysis that underpins his argument.

However, in reality the fact remains that this ticking time bomb scenario is much less rare than Dershowitz would like to have us belive. I think this is what was mentioned in the previous comment as well--what about the "choices faced by governments?" I would like to say that according to numerous experts at this conference, this ticking time bomb scenario has NEVER taken place. So much for that exception.

Furthermore, another person who presented his research at the conference gave numerous instances of when innocent people, have given false confessions so that the perpetrators of torture would stop torturing them. For example, before DNA testing was used in legal cases, a man names Kevin Fox admitted to raping and and killing his 3 year old daughter after being interrogated and psychologically (not physically tortured) for 14 hours straight. 3 years later, a DNA test was conducted and the man was exonerated.

A former officer of the U.S. army who served as an interrogator in Iraq said that the kind of torture techniques that are used today, especially by the United States can make people say ANYTHING. However, this is rarely the truth.

Finally, by saying torture is justified sometimes, and we can make exceptions, we are allowing for a massive diversion not only from the principles on which this nation was founded, but also from international conventions such as the convention against torture. There is no justification for treating human beings as anything less than human. Torture, according to all the survivors of torture, who I met with over these last few days is not only the degradation of the human spirit of the vicitms, but also the humanity as a whole.

Iowa said...

Torture can never be justified, because the costs outweigh the benefits. There has never been a study to show that torture is effective. The fact that Mr. Hicks admitted to assisting Al Qaeda is undermined by the fact that Mr. Hicks was tortured in order to obtain this confession.

Also, the "ticking bomb" scenario as an excuse to implement torture is an extremely weak argument. First of all, the way our intelligence community works, most of the time we don't actually know that we are in a ticking bomb situation. And second, if someone, terrorist or not, decides not to tell something, no amount of torture will create a true confession.