The tin-pot dictator will not let the media talk to the American prisoner captured when his plane crashed.
The dictator says that the prisoner confessed to a horrible murder, and has pleaded guilty.
And so - the dictator announces - there will be no trial, just a death sentence. Indeed, the prisoner is Christian, and the dictator says that the prisoner has asked for martyrdom according to his religious beliefs.
Would the rest of the world believe this is fair?
Of course not. Moreover, world opinion would assume that the prisoner might very well be innocent of the murder charges, especially if it comes out that any confessions were made during extreme torture.
This is exactly the situation we have currently with the prisoners at Guantanamo.
As the New York Times reports:
The Obama administration is considering a change in the law for the military commissions at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that would clear the way for detainees facing the death penalty to plead guilty without a full trial.
The provision could permit military prosecutors to avoid airing the details of brutal interrogation techniques. It could also allow the five detainees who have been charged with the Sept. 11 attacks to achieve their stated goal of pleading guilty to gain what they have called martyrdom.
Raw Story clarifies that:
This option would principally be aimed at a group of detainees accused of planning the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
This is not simply a ploy to cover up the fact that these prisoners were brutally tortured.
It is also a way to silence them forever, so that they can never tell what their real role was in the 9/11 attacks, and who they received assistance from, and how they were able to convince the mightiest military the world has ever known to stand down from standard air defense protocols on 9/11.
Does Innocence Matter?
Remember, most of those held at Guantanamo and tortured were actually innocent.
- Much of the 9/11 Commission Report was based upon the testimony of people who were tortured
- At least four of the people whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators information as a way to stop being "tortured."
- One of the Commission's main sources of information was tortured until he agreed to sign a confession that he was NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO READ
- The 9/11 Commission itself doubted the accuracy of the torture confessions, and yet kept their doubts to themselves
The self-confessed "mastermind" of 9/11 also confessed to crimes which he could not have committed. He later said that he gave the interrogators a lot of false information - telling them what he thought they wanted to hear - in an attempt to stop the torture. We also know that he was heavily tortured specifically for the purpose of trying to obtain false information about 9/11 - specifically, that Iraq had something to do with it.
Indeed, the Senate Armed Services Committee found that the entire U.S. torture program was geared around techniques specifically aimed at extracting false confessions (and see this).
This Would Be Unprecedented
Remember, allowing guilty pleas would not follow standard criminal or even military procedure. Normally, prosecutors in military trials are normally required to prove guilt in a trial even against service members who want to plead guilty.
And in normal American criminal trials, the judge has to make sure that the defendant understands that he is pleading guilty, that he has the capacity to understand what that means, and that he wishes to accept the consequences. But some of the prisoners have been tortured until they are literally crazy, and may not understand what they are pleading guilty to or even what the death penalty means.
Obstruction of Justice
In addition, the government has obstructed justice at every turn regarding 9/11. Indeed, even the 9/11 Commissioners themselves now say this:
- The Commission's co-chairs said that the CIA (and likely the White House) "obstructed our investigation"
- Indeed, they said that the 9/11 Commissioners knew that military officials misrepresented the facts to the Commission, and the Commission considered recommending criminal charges for such false statements (free subscription required)
- 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey said that "There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version . . . We didn't have access . . . ."
- 9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer said "We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting"
- 9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland resigned from the Commission, stating: "It is a national scandal"; "This investigation is now compromised"; and "One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up"
- The Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission (John Farmer) - who led the 9/11 staff's inquiry - said "At some level of the government, at some point in time...there was an agreement not to tell the truth about what happened". He also said "I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described .... The tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years.... This is not spin. This is not true."
The torture sessions of the alleged 9/11 suspects were in fact videotaped, but the CIA illegally destroyed the videotapes, so that the extent of torture and the prisoner's actual words will never be known (and see this).
Allowing these prisoners to now be executed without trial would be the ultimate obstruction of justice. It would be just like killing the captured American Christian and putting him to death based upon his supposed "confessions" and his supposed wish to become a Christian martyr.
Indeed, the analogy would be closer to the current situation if the murder in the tin-pot dictator's country were suspicious (for example, if the dictator had received numerous warnings that the victim's life was in danger but had provided no protection), and if the dictator had used the murder as the main excuse to strip away all of the liberties and freedoms in his country and to launch several wars against other nations which he had long wanted to invade.
The world would obviously insist that the prisoner receive a fair trial both to establish his innocence or guilt and to see if the dictator's rationale for launching wars and crushing the rights of his people was an honest one.
The "messy problem" which the proposal seeks to dispose of is not simply the torture of the prisoners. It is also the fact that the government has no real evidence for its version of 9/11.