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Fox News Trots Out Torture Advocate John Yoo To Criticize Obama Over Ghailani Trial Derailed By Use Of Torture

Reported by Ellen - November 19, 2010 -

If there’s one thing you have to admire about Fox News, it’s their chutzpah. As part of its attack coverage of the trial of Guantanamo Bay detainee and terror suspect Ahmed Ghailani, The O’Reilly Factor brought on the author of the Bush torture memos, John Yoo, to blame discuss the Obama administration’s failure to win more convictions on its decision to try the case in civilian court. But somehow, nobody got around to mentioning the fact that the prosecution was hampered by tainted evidence, thrown out because it had been obtained via “extremely harsh interrogation methods” – during the Bush administration. Instead, substitute host Laura Ingraham accused the Obama administration of wanting terrorists to “game the system.”

As Juan Cole wrote,

When Bush admitted in his memoirs to torturing people, he may as well have just grabbed the key from Ghailani’s prison guard and stuck it in the jail door and yelled for the Tanzanian to make a run for it.

Ghailani was waterboarded, i.e. tortured, into revealing his relationship with Hussein Abebe, who in turn provided the most damaging testimony against Ghailani.

…On Oct. 5, Judge Lewis Kaplan excluded Abebe’s testimony, on the grounds that it was a a fruit of a poisonous tree, i.e. was only available to the prosecution because Bush had had Ghailani tortured (and maybe had had Abebe tortured, as well!)

That was why Ghailani could not be convicted of murder, as he from all accounts ought to have been. Had his connection to Abebe been discovered by ordinary questioning or by good police work, then the latter could have freely taken the witness stand. In fact, it seems to me very likely that Abebe would in fact have been discovered in other ways– from the record, e.g., of Ghailani’s cell phone calls, or even just from his own account of his activities.

But in a mockery of Fox News’ “we report, you decide” motto, Ingraham failed to discuss the suppressed evidence or the interrogations. She also introduced Yoo by merely saying, “Joining us from Dallas, UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo, who worked for the Justice Department during the Bush administration.”

From there, the two teamed up to pooh-pooh the one conviction obtained against Ghailani – even though it goes along with a mandatory minimum 20-year sentence – and blame the other non-convictions on a supposedly soft-on-terror Obama administration.

Yoo said, “(The Obama administration) got lucky (with the one conviction)… I’m afraid that the Attorney General and President Obama want to take us back to the failed policies of September 10th, 2001… The system we want is one that’s gonna help us find and catch them and stop the attacks before they happen and I’m afraid the civilian justice system can’t do that because it’s gonna require the revelation of lots of secrets and lots of operational details that can hurt us in the war right now.”

Yoo failed to explain – and Ingraham didn’t ask – how a military commission trial would prevent a terror attack but presumably Yoo meant that if the U.S. could torture at will, without worrying about evidence getting suppressed as a result, that would do the trick in the war on terror.

That was sickening enough. But Ingraham took it a step further by suggesting that the Obama DOJ wanted terrorists to go free in order to look good on the world stage or in academia – or something. Ingraham said, “I think what’s going on here is this kind of stuff that you and I saw in law school, right? Like all these academic debates, where all these liberals are like, ‘Well, we’ve gotta show the world we’re better than that,’ and I think they prefer the civilian trials… because it’s more likely that the terrorists will be able to game the system and maybe expose what they think is some vulnerability in the American system. I know that sounds really harsh but if your argument is that the civilian trials are just as effective, and put people away for as long, then why the big opposition to the military trials?”

Yoo said he found it “really hard to see what the upside here as to having civilian trials.” He added, “I worry that it’s because President Obama and his administration want to win a popularity contest with the rest of the world. They want us to be liked around the world (Ingraham made approving noises as he spoke) and they seem to think whether we use our own civilian justice system to give members of the enemy the same rights (Ingraham now voiced her disapproval of the Obama administration) that our own citizens get. It’s not gonna help us with the hard problems of terrorism.”

Ingraham mocked the idea of being “loved by the world.” “First and foremost, we need to be secure as a nation,” she said.

Yoo agreed, of course. “If we have to use law enforcement methods and civilian trials, do we want our soldiers running around collecting evidence in the field and taking witness statements? It’s not compatible with really taking the fight to the enemy.”

“Nah,” Ingraham concurred. “You don’t want them worrying about whether this evidence is gonna be admissible in court. I mean, you just can’t conduct a war against the enemy that way.”

Neither Ingraham nor Yoo has served in the military.



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