The United States flag flies inside of Joint Task Force Guantanamo Camp VI at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, March 22, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

U.S. Supreme Court justices ask why a Guantanamo detainee cannot testify

WASHINGTON, Oct 6 (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday questioned why the U.S. authorities is not going to let a suspected high-ranking al Qaeda determine held on the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba testify about his torture by the hands of the CIA.

Three of the 9 justices pressed U.S. Performing Solicitor Basic Brian Fletcher on the topic because the courtroom heard oral arguments within the authorities’s bid to stop two former CIA contractors from being questioned in a felony investigation in Poland inspecting the therapy of detainee Abu Zubaydah.

Zubaydah, a Palestinian man captured in 2002 in Pakistan and held by america since then with out expenses, repeatedly underwent waterboarding, a type of simulated drowning extensively thought of torture.

Whereas the justices typically appeared skeptical that Zubaydah’s attorneys might overcome the federal government’s nationwide safety arguments, some raised the choice of Zubaydah testifying himself in its place.

“Why not make the witness available?” requested conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, referring to Zubaydah. “What is the government’s objection to the witness testifying to his own treatment and not requiring any admission from the government of any kind?”

Zubaydah’s testimony, Gorsuch mentioned, would offer an “off-ramp … that would obviate the need for any of this.”

Liberal justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor appeared to agree, with Breyer questioning why Zubaydah stays at Guantanamo.

“I don’t understand why he is still there,” Breyer mentioned.

“We want a clear answer,” Sotomayor added.

Fletcher wouldn’t commit on whether or not Zubaydah might testify however mentioned he might report again to the justices. Zubaydah’s attorneys have mentioned he isn’t permitted to testify below the situations of his Guantanamo confinement.

The federal government is interesting a decrease courtroom ruling that Central Intelligence Company contractors James Elmer Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen could possibly be subpoenaed below a U.S. regulation that lets federal courts implement a request for testimony or different proof for a overseas authorized continuing.

Poland is believed to be the placement of a “black site” the place the CIA used harsh interrogation strategies in opposition to Zubaydah.

Zubaydah, now 50, has spent 15 years at Guantanamo and is one among 39 detainees nonetheless held there. He misplaced an eye fixed and underwent waterboarding 83 occasions in a single month whereas held by the CIA, U.S. authorities paperwork confirmed.

He was “an associate and longtime terrorist ally of Osama bin Laden,” the chief of the al Qaeda Islamist militant group killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan in 2011, a Justice Division submitting mentioned.

The justices have turned away a number of instances introduced by Guantanamo detainees difficult their confinement. Zubaydah’s personal case has been pending in decrease courts for 14 years.

Zubaydah’s attorneys need Mitchell and Jessen to testify and supply paperwork within the felony investigation in Poland. The U.S. authorities has asserted what is called the “state-secrets privilege” to stop them from being questioned, saying it might jeopardize nationwide safety.

Zubaydah’s lawyer David Klein mentioned the truth that there was a “black site” in Poland is extensively recognized, not a state secret. Mitchell and Jessen might testify about what they noticed and heard with out mentioning the placement, in response to Zubaydah’s attorneys. The federal government disputes that assertion.

Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts appeared sympathetic to the federal government’s place, noting that if america confirms information that implicate Poland’s authorities “that would be a breach of faith with our allies.”

Conservative Justice Samuel Alito mentioned the complete level of Zubaydah’s request is to substantiate that the torture occurred in Poland.

“That’s what this all boils down to,” Alito mentioned.

The U.S. authorities has disclosed that Zubaydah was held abroad and interrogated utilizing “enhanced interrogation techniques” however has not revealed areas. The European Court of Human Rights decided that Zubaydah was held in Poland in 2002 and 2003.

The San Francisco-based ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dominated in 2019 that Mitchell and Jessen could possibly be subpoenaed. The Supreme Court’s ruling is due by the tip of June.

Particulars of CIA actions had been confirmed in a 2014 U.S. Senate report that concluded that the interrogation strategies had been extra brutal than initially disclosed and that the company misled the White Home and public about its torture of detainees captured abroad after al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001, assaults on america.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Modifying by Will Dunham

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