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Torture Debate
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times

New York Times, May 7, 2009
Posted: May 10th, 2009

Last months release of memos prepared by the Bush Justice Department and the disclosure of a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross on the brutal treatment of detainees expanded public knowledge of an ignominious chapter in the nations history. But these and other related disclosures do not provide a complete record of the governments abuse of detainees. One missing element is the words of those prisoners subjected to waterboarding and other brutality. Those voices remain muffled by a combination of Bush-era resistance to a reasonable Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union, and the gag order imposed on lawyers representing Guantnamo detainees. For two years, the A.C.L.U. has been seeking complete transcripts of the hearings at Guantnamo for 14 men who were previously in C.I.A. custody, including Abu Zubaydah, who has been described as an operative of Al Qaeda and was waterboarded at least 83 times. But the publicly released version of these transcripts deleted all detainee statements about their ordeals. The Bush teams national security claim always had the odor of a cover-up. The interrogation program it was protecting has been discontinued, and crucial details are known. It is unsupportable to blank out grim details. The same considerations apply to the protective order that prohibits lawyers for Guantnamo detainees from speaking publicly about their clients treatment unless they receive the governments permission or the information otherwise becomes public. Disclosure of the torture memos and the Red Cross report gives detainee lawyers more leeway, but they should not have to parse their words under a threat of prosecution.

Note: For many reports from major media sources detailing the disturbing government threats to civil liberties, click here.

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