US Supreme Court Questions Guantanamo’s Prisoner’s Witness Policy

US Supreme Court judges, Wednesday (6/10), questioned the policy of why the US government did not allow a suspected high-ranking al-Qaida official detained at the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to testify about the torture he endured when he was arrested. detained by the CIA.

Three of the nine chief justices posed the question to Assistant Attorney General Brian Fletcher when the court held a hearing over the government’s efforts to prevent two former CIA contractors from being questioned in a crime investigation in Poland that is investigating the treatment of Abu Zubaydah detainees.

Zubaydah is a Palestinian national who was arrested in 2002 in Pakistan and detained by the U.S. since then without charge, but has repeatedly suffered waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning that is classed as torture.

While the judges were generally skeptical that Zubaydah’s lawyers could address the government’s national security reasons, some suggested that Zubaydah be presented as a witness as an alternative.

“Why not present this witness?” asked Chief Justice Neil Gorsuch referring to Zubaydah. “Does the government object if this witness testifies about the treatment he suffered?”

Zubaydah’s testimony, according to Gorsuch, will provide a way out so that contractor testimony is not needed.” Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor agreed, and Breyer questioned why Zubaydah was still being held at Guantanamo.

Fletcher did not commit whether Zubaydah could testify. [jm/ka]

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