Document a Day: Obstructing Justice Overseas

With more of those who were criminally mistreated turning to courts in their own countries for recognition of their ordeals, the efforts of U.S. officials to suppress evidence and escape accountability now extend overseas.

These seven paragraphs summarize the contents of 42 documents the CIA sent to British intelligence agencies describing the interrogation of Binyam Mohamed in Pakistan in 2002. The paragraphs were part of the written opinion of a British court which concluded that the “sleep deprivation, threats, and inducements” Mohamed was subjected to during the interrogation “would clearly have been in breach” of the Convention Against Torture.

The United States government not only successfully fought the public release of those 42 documents, it threatened to disrupt the intelligence-sharing relationship between the U.K. and the U.S. if these summary paragraphs appeared in the court's published opinion. It took a British appeals court's ruling—in a case it declared went to the heart of “democratic accountability and the rule of last itself”—to force the restoration of the paragraphs to the opinion more than a year later.






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