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Supreme Court docket asks U.S. if Guantanamo inmate can testify on torture in state secrets and techniques case

A view of the U.S. Supreme Court docket on June 28, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Pictures

Supreme Court docket justices requested Wednesday if the U.S. would enable a Guantanamo Bay detainee to testify about his alleged torture and confinement by the CIA, a transfer that might sidestep a dispute over the federal government’s assertion of the “state secrets and techniques privilege.”

The query arose on the finish of oral arguments in regards to the authorities’s effort to cease two ex-CIA contractors from testifying in regards to the remedy of that detainee, Abu Zubaydah, at an alleged “black web site” in Poland.

This undated file picture supplied by U.S. Central Command, reveals Abu Zubaydah, date and placement unknown. The Supreme Court docket is listening to arguments in regards to the authorities’s means to maintain what it says are state secrets and techniques from a person tortured by the CIA following 9/11 and now held on the Guantanamo Bay detention heart. On the heart of the case being heard Wednesday is whether or not Abu Zubaydah can get info associated to his detention.

US Central Command | AP

“Why not make the witness accessible?” Justice Neil Gorsuch requested Justice Division lawyer Brian Fletcher. “What’s the authorities’s objection to the witness testifying to his personal remedy and never requiring any admission from the federal government of any variety?”

Fletcher mentioned that that query had not been resolved as a result of the request had not been made by Zubaydah’s attorneys, who say Zubaydah has not been allowed to talk.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer pressed additional.

“We wish a transparent reply,” Sotomayor mentioned.

“I do not perceive why he is nonetheless there after 14 years,” Breyer added.

Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and has been imprisoned ever since, being held by the CIA in detention amenities abroad with out expenses.

The U.S. believed him to be a member of al-Qaeda, the terrorist group behind the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults. In a petition to the Supreme Court docket, the federal government described Zubaydah as an “affiliate and longtime terrorist ally of Osama bin Laden” — a declare Zubaydah’s attorneys referred to as “categorically false.”

Zubaydah in 2017 requested a U.S. district courtroom to authorize subpoenas to query ex-CIA contractors James Mitchell and John Jessen a few web site in Poland the place Zubaydah alleges he was held and tortured. Their testimony could be a part of an investigation being carried out by Polish authorities.

The federal government, asserting the state secrets and techniques privilege, moved to quash these subpoenas of their entirety. The district courtroom granted the federal government’s request, however an appeals courtroom disagreed, discovering that not the entire requested info was a state secret.

The federal government appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court docket, arguing that the decrease courtroom’s choice “is significantly flawed and poses vital dangers to the nationwide safety.”

In a brief to the Supreme Court docket, Zubaydah’s attorneys mentioned the U.S. has forbidden him from providing his personal testimony within the Polish investigation.

The USA flag flies within Joint Activity Drive Guantanamo Camp VI on the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, March 22, 2016.

Lucas Jackson | Reuters

Fletcher instructed the courtroom Wednesday that Zubaydah is just not being held “incommunicado” however is topic to the identical restrictions as different Guantanamo detainees.

Zubaydah’s attorneys allege the CIA subjected him to a “relentless regime” of torture spanning a number of years and a number of nations. Their petition to the excessive courtroom describes him being waterboarded 83 occasions in a single month, suspended bare from hooks for hours at a time and being crammed right into a small field “that might neatly match beneath a chair,” amongst different strategies.

The federal government acknowledges that Zubaydah’s remedy by the CIA “included the usage of enhanced interrogation methods.”

The Supreme Court docket is ready to listen to arguments subsequent month in one other case involving questions in regards to the state secrets and techniques privilege. That case, FBI v. Fazaga, entails claims that the FBI had an informant infiltrate a California mosque to observe targets on the premise of their faith. Oral arguments will happen Nov. 8.


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