Tag Archives: State secrets

When Are Secrets Not Secret? By Andrew P. Napolitano

“State Secret” is generally code for: This is going to embarrass the hell out of important people so we’re going to keep it buried. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

“Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.”
— Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Last week, President George W. Bush’s torture regime reared its head in an unusual argument before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2002, Abu Zubaydah was captured by a militia in Pakistan and handed over to the CIA, which brought him to Poland where, under the supervision of CIA agents and American psychologists, he was brutally tortured until his removal to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba in 2006.

The Bush administration argued that Zubaydah was a high-ranking member of al-Qaida who possessed information needed to fight the war on terror. After his torture produced no actionable information, the CIA told the Department of Justice and the Senate that Zubaydah was not a member of al-Qaida, and it had no evidence of wrongdoing by him.

His lawyers filed a criminal complaint with the European Court of Human Rights against the CIA, its psychologists and the Polish intelligence agents who carried out the torture.

That court concluded that the torture did occur, and it referred the matter to Polish prosecutors to proceed criminally against the defendants. During that criminal proceeding, Polish prosecutors asked the DOJ for the names of those who tortured Zubaydah and documentation of what they did to him.

In the Supreme Court last week, the government’s lawyer conceded that the names of the torturers and the nature of their grisly deeds are already known — the psychologists wrote a book about it — but the government will not confirm any of it because it constitutes state secrets.

So, if these so-called secrets are now publicly known, why does the government refuse to confirm them?

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Biden Tells Supreme Court That Publicly Documented Torture Is a State Secret, by Marjorie Cohn

Bad as politicians are in public, what they try to hide is always much worse, usually criminal. From Marjorie Cohn at truthout.org:

President Joe Biden takes the stage before delivering remarks on the September jobs numbers in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on October 8, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

President Joe Biden takes the stage before delivering remarks on the September jobs numbers in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on October 8, 2021, in Washington, D.C.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

When Abu Zubaydah was apprehended in Pakistan in 2002, the George W. Bush administration falsely characterized him as chief of operations for al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden’s number three man. For the next four years, the CIA sent Zubaydah to its “black sites” in Thailand and Poland where he was viciously tortured. In 2006, Zubaydah was taken to Guantánamo, where he remains to this day. He has never been charged with a crime.

The torture of Abu Zubaydah is thoroughly documented in the 2014 report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. In fact, several of the justices at the October 6 Supreme Court oral argument in United States v. Zubaydah referred to his treatment as “torture.”

Zubaydah’s lawyers detailed the torture he suffered in their brief (which referenced the Senate torture report) as follows:

On 83 different occasions in a single month of 2002, he was strapped to an inclined board with his head lower than his feet while CIA contractors poured water up his nose and down his throat, bringing him within sight of death. He was handcuffed and repeatedly slammed into walls, and suspended naked from hooks in the ceiling for hours at a time. He was forced to remain awake for eleven consecutive days, and doused again and again with cold water when he collapsed into sleep. He was forced into a tall, narrow box the size of a coffin, and crammed into another box that would nearly fit under a chair, where he was left for hours. He was subjected to a particularly grotesque humiliation described by the CIA as “rectal rehydration.”

Nevertheless, the Biden administration told the high court that Zubaydah’s well-known torture is a “state secret” because former CIA Director Mike Pompeo said publicizing it would harm national security. Thus, Solicitor General Brian Fletcher argued, the two contractors who orchestrated Zubaydah’s torture in Poland should not be permitted to testify in a Polish court’s criminal investigation into the treatment of Zubaydah.

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State Secrets and the National-Security State, by Jacob G. Hornberger

National-security states, also called authoritarian or, if sufficiently repressive, totalitarian states, always have to make it a criminal offense to reveal their secrets and ruthlessly persecute those who violate those laws. From Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org:

Inadvertently released federal documents reveal that U.S. officials have apparently secured a secret indictment against Julian Assange, the head of WikiLeaks who released secret information about the internal workings of the U.S. national-security establishment. In any nation whose government is founded on the concept of a national-security state, that is a cardinal sin, one akin to treason and meriting severe punishment.

Mind you, Assange isn’t being charged with lying or releasing false or fraudulent information about the U.S. national-security state. Everyone concedes that the WikiLeaks information was authentic. His “crime” was in disclosing to people the wrongdoing of the national-security establishment. No one is supposed to do that, even if the information is true and correct.

It’s the same with Edward Snowden, the American contractor with the CIA and the NSA who is now relegated to living in Russia. If Snowden returns home, he faces federal criminal prosecution, conviction, and incarceration for disclosing secrets of the U.S. national-security establishment. Again, his “crime” is disclosing the truth about the internal workings of the national-security establishment, not disseminating false information.

Such secrecy and the severe punishment for people who disclose the secrets to the public were among the things that came with the conversion of the federal government to a national-security state.

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