I had vaguely rememberd hearing about this case a while ago. A US citizen of Jordanian descent was in Saudi Arabia at a religious school, was arrested by Saudi authorities accused of terrorism, held there for 2 years where he confessed to joining al Qaeda and plotting terrorist acts (including to kill President Bush), before being turned over to US authorities, extradited and tried here for terrorism.
Sounds like a straight forward terrorism prosecution, right?
Oh, yeah, and he claims that he was tortured into giving a confession there.
Huh, tortured in Saudi Arabia? Our close allies there would never do that, would they? Come now, torture people, in Saudi Arabia? Isn't that a humane place where a primacy is placed on human rights, where punishment is only meted out grudgingly and after maximum consideration? Uh, no, that would not be Saudi Arabia.
So, how on earth is our government prosecuting someone for a confession, apparently made without any corroborative evidence of his membership or actions, made in a Saudi prison? Am I missing something here? One of the world's more repressive governments gets a confession from someone while they're imprisoned for 2 years? Isn't that presumptively tortured? Can't we assume for the sake of an argument that just about any statement that comes from a person held in a Saudi jail is elicited through torture, that the Saudi government could probably get Michael Jordan to deny ever playing basketball, to get Martha Stewart to sing the virtues of using your fingers at a fancy meal, to get George Bush to admit making an error? Our government is now prosecuting people in our courts using only testimony extracted from Saudi police?
Am I missing something here? I hope. Tell me that there is more to this than a Saudi confession. Yes, I know US doctors examined him and say that the 4-10 lines down his back (4 if your a government doctor, 10 if you're his doctor) are consistent with not only torture, but just as likely of being scratched on the back with someone's nails, or something benign like that. But, haven't these repressive governments become good at torturing people with things like electric shocks to the genitals, so that they don't leave marks? Alright, I realize that FBI doctors were permitted to visit him, and they thought he was not being tortured, but he was there for 2 years. Did they visit him daily, weekly, 2 times the whole time he was there? And didn't the Nazis manage to clean up a couple of the ghettos before walking the Red Cross through them just enough for the Red Cross to say that they were not terrible places to be?
Give me a break, I really hope that there is more to this case than has been reported. If not, the jury had better come back not guilty (although, understand that they brought this case in Alexandria, Virginia for a reason, they're far more likely to get a conviction there). And regardless, what does this say about our fight for freedom around the world that we're stooping to this level to prosecute people? This is the freedom we're fighting for? Bring me back some of the old tyranny of the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's.