Statement by Vincent Warren on CCR Client Mohammed al Qahtani and the Military Commission Processes

June 5, 2008, New York—“Today’s sham proceedings further illustrate the absurd nature of the process this White House has established at Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. government admits it only intends to try a very small number of Guantánamo prisoners. All the Europeans have been returned home, and virtually all to freedom; those from other countries remain. Only a single person has been convicted at Guantanamo: his plea agreement was negotiated by politicians – and he is now free at home. Indeed, virtually all actions taken within the context of the military commissions have demonstrated the inadequacies of these processes. It is simply impossible and unacceptable to create a process ad hoc, and even more egregious after the brutal treatment that these men have been subjected to. The process inevitably reeks of politics, and not of justice. Today’s proceedings are no different.

“The plight of our client, Mohammed al Qahtani, underscores the simple reality that the Bush Administration can do little to bring legitimacy to this inherently flawed system. After initially stating its intent to charge Mr. al Qahtani, the charges were dropped. Mr. al Qahtani is the victim of the First Special Interrogation Plan ordered and approved by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. His torture has been highlighted as perhaps the most extreme torture that any prisoner at Guantánamo has been subjected to at Guantanamo. FBI interrogators expressed their outrage at some of the tactics that would later be inflicted on him. He was interrogated for up to 20 hours a day for weeks, and he was subjected to repeated religious and sexual abuse. The military's recent unsuccessful and misguided attempt to bring death penalty charges against Mr. al Qahtani drove him to a suicide attempt earlier this year and has resulted in a severe deterioration of his mental state. The simple fact is that Mr. al Qahtani was tortured so badly that he is unprosecutable, and any trial by this commission will be undermined by that torture.

“Immediate action is now required: the military commissions are biased political show trials that must not be allowed to proceed with substandard processes. And countries like Saudi Arabia should demand that the U.S. return their nationals and residents to be tried at home, or released where there is no reason to try them. Saudi Arabia should reclaim their men who remain behind, like Mr. al Qahtani who has suffered enough. Only then will there be justice in Guantanamo.”

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Last modified 

June 13, 2008