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IPFS News Link • Torture

Supreme Court Expands Government Secrecy Powers in Torture-Related Case

• https://www.activistpost.com, By Robert Pallitto

In US v. Zubaydah, government torture policy and state secrets converge. A torture victim requested information related to his treatment at a CIA "black site," and the government blocked that request, citing national security interests. Seven members of the Court joined parts of an opinion siding with the government, with only Justices Sotomayor and Gorsuch dissenting. The case has implications for other torture-related cases and for government accountability more broadly as it expands state secrecy powers based on a doctrine that was already overbroad, and suspect in its origins.

The Zubaydah case is procedurally unusual. Abu Zubaydah is currently detained at Guantanamo, but the history of his confinement and treatment at numerous sites over the past two decades is well known. The government has admitted to waterboarding him and subjecting him to other forms of torture, and the 2014 Senate Report on Torture refers specifically to Zubaydah at numerous points. Moreover, former President Obama conceded that Zubaydah was tortured. In the course of seeking a tribunal that would hear his claims, Zubaydah asked the Polish government to investigate criminally the interrogations that took place at a CIA black site in Poland, Stare Kiejkuty. Since much of the supporting evidence was located in the United States, Zubaydah had to petition a US District Court for an order compelling its production. Federal law allows for such a petition, but when it was filed, the US government objected, citing the state secrets doctrine. The case worked its way up to the Supreme Court and the Court ruled for the first time in years on the scope and application of the doctrine.


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