The lawyer for five Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] prisoners charged with plotting the September 11 attacks has asked President Barack Obama [official website] to declassify the CIA interrogation program that allegedly subjected prisoners to torture. The letter [text, PDF], made public on Friday, calls upon Obama to make the details of the CIA's rendition, detention and interrogation (RDI) program public. This program has been linked to certain interrogation techniques that have been said constitute torture. In the letter, the lawyer for the defendants argues:
All aspects of the RDI program with respect to our clients against whom the United States seeks to impose the death penalty. True transparency and meaningful justice can only be achieved by a faithful application of deeds to aspirational statements. ... Existing classification restrictions surrounding the RDI program only facilitate further concealment of war crimes committed by agents of our government. ... Restrictions further violate our domestic commitment under the Convention Against Torture and the universal prohibition against silencing victims against torture.Essentially, the letter argues that the continued classification of this program is suppressing important evidence related to the case. Additionally, the lawyer claims that allowing the program that allegedly condoned torture to remain classified is unjust to the trial process.
Controversy continues to surround Guantanamo military trials. Earlier this week, a federal appeals court upheld [JURIST report] the conviction of a former Guantanamo detainee. The day before, a group of Guantanamo inmates began pursuing [JURIST report] claims under the global torture treaty. Earlier this month a military judge refused to suspend pretrial hearings [JURIST report] in the ongoing case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants. In September, detainee Shaker Aamer [JURIST news archive] filed [JURIST report] a complaint against British security forces for delaying his scheduled release from Guantanamo. Days before, it was announced [JURIST report] that there would no longer be daily updates on detainee hunger strikes. Earlier that month a federal judge ruled [JURIST report] that the US government did not have to release photographs and videotapes taken during the investigation of Mohammed al-Qahtani.