For the first time in United States history, a federal judge in a military court has ruled that information obtained by torture can be submitted as evidence in court.
According to Judge Andrew Napolitano, who wrote an opinion piece on the matter for Fox News, “The fruits of torture — which is any cruel or degrading or intentionally painful or disorienting behavior visited upon a person in captivity to induce compliance or to gratify the torturer — are not permitted in any court in the United States, and their inducement is criminal.”
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is a Saudi prisoner who has been in U. S. custody since 2002 and held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba on charges of plotting with other terrorists the attack on the U. S. S. Cole in October 2000 (pictured above), an attack that resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors. He is also accused of planning an attack on an oil tanker two years later, where a crew member was killed.
In their efforts to provide a defense for Nashiri, his attorneys claim that the real planners of the terrorist attacks have already been killed by the U. S. and they have sought information on Persian Gulf drone attacks to prove their point. Prosecutors do not want the defense to have access to that information, and have claimed that the information they want is classified as something Nashiri told CIA interrogators under torture. Nashiri’s attorneys requested that the judge reject the prosecutor’s attempts to block the information on the Persian Gulf attacks that they seek, claiming their client divulged the classified information under torture with a broomstick. However, contrary to U. S. law and to 230 years of precedent, Army Col. Lanny J. Acosta Jr ruled on May 18 that prosecutors may use the information Nashiri provided under torture to justify withholding the information on the Persian Gulf attacks from the defense.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), #2297, says: “Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.” There are few violations of human dignity more severe than torture. Those who justify the use of torture do so on the premise that the information obtained by its use can often save lives. This is a classic “the ends justify the means” argument, a moral claim that the Catholic Church rejects. As well, people are likely to say anything when put through torture, so that the information they give lacks credibility. As Judge Napolitano says in his opinion piece, “The history of torture is the history of victims divorced from reality by overwhelming fear and unbearable pain and willing to say whatever the torturers demand in return for a cessation of the pain. Stated differently, the fruits of torture are divorced from the truth. As a truth-producing mechanism, torture is a failure.”
Judge Acosta has set a dangerous precedent, empowering those who justify and employ torture in their efforts to extract information from those accused of crimes, information that likely lacks credulity. This does not reflect Western or American values, and certainly not the values of the Judeo-Christian ethical tradition. Nashiri’s attorneys have appealed to a higher court to overturn Acosta’s ruling. Let us hope they prevail, if not for Nashiri’s sake, than for the sake of the integrity and standing of the United States.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.