As Guantánamo Video Is Made Public, ACLU Calls On Government To Release Wrongfully Withheld Documentation Of Detainee Abuse

July 15, 2008 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – Despite vigorous attempts by the Bush administration to block the release of footage showing the policies inside Guantánamo, lawyers made public a video today documenting the interrogation of Omar Khadr, a Canadian captured in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was 15 years old.

The following can be attributed to Jamil Dakwar, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Human Rights Program:

“This is the first visual glimpse into the Bush administration’s lawless detention policies at Guantánamo and it is quite disturbing. Unfortunately, it took a Canadian court to reveal the truth about the Bush administration’s shameful detention practices. Like many other detainees at Guantánamo, Omar Khadr is facing an unfair trial in a tainted system that allows hearsay, secret evidence and coerced evidence obtained through torture. This is not justice. It is time to shut down Guantánamo and end this sad chapter in American history.”

The ACLU has a case pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit challenging the government’s appeal of a 2006 order directing the Defense Department to release photographs depicting abuse of detainees by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act request in 2003, the government has wrongfully refused to disclose these images by attempting to radically expand the exemptions allowed under the Freedom of Information Act for withholding records. The government claimed that the public disclosure of such evidence would generate outrage and would violate U.S. obligations towards detainees under the Geneva Conventions.

The following can be attributed to ACLU staff attorney Amrit Singh, who argued that case before the court:

“There are still far too many missing pieces when it comes to the documentation of torture and abuse that have taken place in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Under the government’s logic, records that uncover the most egregious government misconduct deserve the greatest protection from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. But this interpretation is flat-out wrong. We also know that the administration has destroyed videotapes showing brutal interrogation practices and wrongfully withheld others. The public has a right to know the complete truth about the treatment of detainees held in U.S. custody abroad. And public officials must finally be held accountable for their actions.”

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