The Corner

Binyam Mohammed: Is That All There Is?

Binyam Mohammed is an al Qaeda terrorist who planned, with his would-be partner Jose Padilla (the “Dirty Bomber”) to carry out mass-murder attacks in U.S. cities as part of a 9/11 “second wave.”  (More here.) Unlike Padilla, who was prosecuted on (tangentially related) terrorism charges and is now serving a lengthy (albeit not lengthy enough) sentence, Mohammed was released by the Obama administration, under great pressure from British authorities.

Mohammed is a cause celebre in the U.K. — where he is living free and clear — because he made “torture” allegations against the CIA.  Our military prosecutors wanted to try him for war crimes, but the Brits did not want a public trial — and neither, I imagine, did parts of our intelligence community — for fear that they’d be branded “torturers” in the press (which, naturally, happened anyway). So we released him, and of course he has had the vigorous support of the ususal suspects in pursuing civil suits demanding that details of his “torture” be revealed. 

The lower British court tried to force the release of seven redacted paragraphs in an internal British memo, describing what that government learned about his treatment in 2002. The Foreign Office rebuked the court for not respecting the assurances of secrecy that are the foundation of vital intelligence sharing between nations.  Finally, the appellate court directed that the seven paragraphs be disclosed — but only because the information had already come out in American court cases.  So the Foreign Office has now made disclosure.  Here are the paragraphs that caused this whole mess:

It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2001 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer.  [SEE UPDATE BELOW — Andy]

It was reported that at some stage during that further interview process by the United States authorities, BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation.  The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed. 

It was reported that combined with the sleep deprivation, threats and inducements were made to him.  His fears of being removed from United States custody and “disappearing” were played upon.

It was reported that the stress brought about by these deliberate tactics was increased by him being shackled in his interviews 

It was clear not only from the reports of the content of the interviews but also from the report that he was being kept under self-harm observation, that the inter views were having a marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.

We regret to have to conclude that the reports provide to the SyS made clear to anyone reading them that BM was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.

The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972.  Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities.”

That’s it.  No water-boarding, no beating, no slapping around.  Mohammed was not even stuck in a box with a caterpillar. Just sleep-deprivation (carefully monitored to avoid doing real damage), shackling (not in a stress position), and playing on his fear that he would be taken out of the custody of the U.S. (you know, the torturers) and handed over to some less solicitous country. 

To the Brits, the Eurocrats, the American Left, and transnational progressives everywhere, this is somehow “tantamount to torture” because it amounts to “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.” Of course, it’s not anywhere close to being torture.  I’m sure Marc Thiessen will have strong views on this, but I’ve talked to a lot of groups around the country on this topic, and I would say that easily two-thirds of Americans would not be offended in the slightest by the sort of treatment to which Binyam Mohammed was subjected if the reason were to induce him to tell us what he knew about al Qaeda and its ongoing plots.

We can’t deprive a would-be mass-murderer of sleep?  He was trying to deprive us of a lot more than sleep.  Over this nonsense — which we had to know would come out anyway — we’ve let him free to go back to the jihad?  A guy who tried to kill hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans?  That’s how we uphold our “values”?  Whose values?

UPDATE:  The eagle eye of Tom Joscelyn alerts us that this date cannot be right — it must be 17 May 2002. I got the excerpt from the 2001 date from the paragraphs as they are posted on the Foreign Office website.  The BBC gets this aspect of the story right:  “The key details are contained in a seven-paragraph summary of what the CIA told their British intelligence officials about Mr Mohamed’s treatment in 2002.” (Emphasis added.) 

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