ACLU: Hope is Flickering.

ACLU: Hope is Flickering.

by
Craig Brown

In a new press release titled "Obama Endorses Bush Secrecy On Torture And Rendition" the ACLU lambastes Obama:

"Hope is flickering. The Obama
administration’s position is not change. It is more of the same."

Obama Endorses Bush Secrecy On Torture And Rendition

NEW YORK - February 5 - After
the British High Court ruled that evidence of British resident Binyam
Mohamed’s extraordinary rendition and torture at Guantánamo Bay must
remain secret because of threats made by the Bush administration to
halt intelligence sharing, the Obama administration told the BBC today
in a written statement: "The United States thanks the UK government for
its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security
information and preserve the long-standing intelligence sharing
relationship that enables both countries to protect their citizens."

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union:

“Hope is flickering. The Obama
administration’s position is not change. It is more of the same. This
represents a complete turn-around and undermining of the restoration of
the rule of law. The new American administration shouldn’t be complicit
in hiding the abuses of its predecessors.”

When the ACLU learned of the High
Court’s ruling earlier today, it sent a letter to Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton urging her to clarify the Obama administration's
position relating to the Mohamed case and calling on her to reject the
Bush administration's policy of using false claims of national security
to avoid judicial review of controversial programs.

The ACLU's letter to Secretary of State Clinton is available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/general/38660leg20090204.html

The British High Court ruling is available online at: www.judiciary.gov.uk/docs/judgments_guidance/mohamed-judgment4-04022009.pdf

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The ACLU conserves
America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and
communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties
guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and
the Bill of Rights.

 

The ACLU's letter to Secretary of State Clinton follows:

February 4, 2009

The Honorable Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520

Re: Clarification Requested on Position of the United States on
Blocking Disclosure by a British Court of Its Report on Allegations of
Torture

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

Dear Secretary Clinton:
The American Civil Liberties Union strongly urges you to clarify the
position of the United States on the publication of the full judgment
in a lawsuit brought by a Guantanamo detainee, Binyam Mohamed, in a
British court. Earlier today, the High Court in Great Britain published
a judgment denying publication of its report detailing allegations of
torture. The High Court stated that the United States had threatened
that full publication of the court's judgment would jeopardize
intelligence cooperation between the two countries. Remarkably, the
court reported that the British government claimed the U.S. position
had not changed, despite the inauguration of President Barack Obama. We
urgently request that you clarify the position of the United States in
this matter.

Two of the British justices severely criticized the position of the
United States in working to block publication of the judgment in the
torture case. Lord Justice Thomas and Justice Lloyd Jones stated today
that: Indeed, we did not consider that a democracy [the United States]
governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy
to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own
officials ... relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane,
or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be. We
had no reason ... to anticipate there would be made a threat of the
gravity of the kind made by the United States Government that it would
reconsider its intelligence-sharing relationship, when all the
considerations in relation to open justice pointed to us providing a
limited but important summary of the reports.

The court's opinion specifically stated that attorneys for British
Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the court that the United States'
threat on the effect of publication on intelligence cooperation was
continued by the United States, despite the inauguration of President
Obama.

Specifically, the justices stated that, "it was submitted to us by Mr.
David Rose that the situation had changed significantly following the
election of President Obama who was avowedly determined to eschew
torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and to close
Guantanamo Bay. We have, however, been informed by counsel for the
Foreign Secretary that the position has not changed."

The claims made by the British justices that the United States
continues to oppose publication of the judgment in the Binyam Mohamed
case--to the point of threatening the future of U.S.-British
intelligence cooperation--seems completely at odds with both the
anti-torture and transparency executive orders signed by the President.
We strongly urge you to clarify the position of the United States and
remove any threat related to the publication of the court's full
judgment.

Please let us know if you have any questions regarding this matter.

Sincerely,

Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director

Caroline Fredrickson
Director, Washington Legislative Office

cc: Joan Donoghue, Acting Legal Adviser

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