The government has demanded that any discussion of torture and detainee mistreatment be prohibited by the judge in the military trial of five men accused of facilitating the 9/11 attacks. The government has even gone so far as to demand that there must be “a 40-second delay in the audio feed the government makes available to the public, media, and representatives of non-governmental organizations who observe the tribunal,” in order to “permit a courtroom security official to cut off the audio feed whenever the defendants describe their detention and interrogation in US custody.”
This absurdity makes clear the reasons for the government’s insistence that torture not be talked about, but also the reasons for the military tribunals themselves, as opposed to civilian trials. Col. Morris Davis, who was the chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo before he resigned in 2007, explains:
[T]he reason the apologists want a second-rate military commission option is because of what we did to the detainees, not because of what the detainees did to us. This is not about the exigencies of the battlefield and the problems our soldiers face trying to fight a war; this is about torture, coercion, rendition and a decade or more in confinement without an opportunity to confront the evidence — abuses that would have us up in arms if done to an American citizen by some other country — that make the tarnished military commissions uniquely suited to try and accommodate the small category of cases where we crossed over to the dark side.
In prosecuting individuals for heinous crimes, we are desperately trying to cover up our own.