Draft Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee re: Majid Khan – PDF

2007 To Senate Judiciary Committee Majid Khan 

I have a suggestion for the Senate Judiciary Committee and especially Senators Schumer and Feinstein who recently said they would vote to confirm Judge Mukasey as our next Attorney General despite his failure to denounce waterboarding as torture: interview Majid Khan, a former Baltimore resident imprisoned at Guantanamo. They should interview him because the President has admitted he was at a secret site and that alternate interrogation techniques, which many believe included waterboarding were employed  at such sites. [could put a little more in about Majid] Such an interview will take the discussion that is happening in the media and may give it some substance—some substance that may just make the committee recognize the horror that is water boarding.

I say “may give it some substance” because I do not know whether Majid Khan has been subjected to waterboarding -although considering the President’s statement I think it likely. I do not know despite the fact that I am an attorney and President of the Center for Constitutional Rights which represents Majid Khan. Majid Khan has been silenced from speaking publicly by the Administration’s regime of secrecy, secret detention , offshore prisons and over-classification . Neither Majid Khan nor others who may have been water-boarded can reveal that information to me—I do not have the high level security clearance necessary to hear about whether and how he was tortured. [something here on not outrage of not being able to speak about torture]

What may be more remarkable is that two attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights who recently visited Majid Khan at Guantanamo-the first visit to a detained ghost detainee from the secret sites –and who have high level security clearance and as a result may know Majid Khan’s story, cannot tell me or other attorneys at our office anything about what they know. So I am in the dark, but suspect the worst. The government has required these attorneys to get a security clearance far more stringent then the other attorneys visiting Guantanamo detainee because Majid Khan “came into possession of ‘ top secret, classified information about “alternative interrogation techniques.” Our lawyers were required to get this security clearance although they claimed the government was wrongly using its classification authority “to conceal illegal or embarrassing executive conduct.”

But Senate Judiciary Committee need not be in the dark. They can interview Majid Khan and others who were imprisoned at CIA secret sites. They can interview our lawyers who have just returned from visiting Majid Khan. The committee can learn what it means to be waterboarded. They will probably hear descriptions like those written about by Henri Alleg, a French journalist who described his waterboarding in at the hands of the French during the Algerian war: “I had the impression of drowning, and a terrible agony, that of death itself, took possession of me.”

Interviewing the subjects of Bush administration waterboarding or their attorneys should not be necessary. Few really doubt that water-boarding or simulated drowning is torture. Tens of thousands of words have filled pages demonstrating that it is an old form of torture with a history back to the Inquisition. The United States, in the past, has prosecuted  its enemies who have dared to employ its use. However, the man nominated for Attorney General is unsure, wonders what the technique involves and despite his refusal to label water-boarding as torture is on his way to confirmation.

The committee still has a genuine opportunity for the tell us, the country and world that torture is unacceptable. Instead they are about to send a message that torture is acceptable Mukasey’s hearing was a real opportunity to begin to remedy five very dark years. It is a sad day of all of us

They don’t want to know

No one cares

have

Few really doubt that water-boarding or simulated drowning is torture. Recently, thousands of words have filled pages demonstrating that it is an old form of torture with a history back to the Inquisition. The United States, in the past, has prosecuted its enemies who have dared to employ its use. However, the man nominated for Attorney General appears to be unsure, wonders what the technique involves and despite his refusal to label water-boarding as torture, two key Democrats on the Committee have announced they vote for his Judge Mukasey’s confirmation.

While few believe that Mukasey is genuine in his claimed lack of knowledge , lets us for a moment assume he is not dissembling. Then should not he and the committee determine the nature of water-boarding and its use. Senators Schumer and Feinstein I have one important suggestion for the members of the Committee if they have any doubts about whether water-boarding constitutes torture: speak to one of those who the U.S. may have put through the horrors of the process. There are people who have experienced secret detention and been subjected to waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques. They are trapped into silence by the Administrations regime of secrecy, secret detention, offshore prisons, and over-classification.