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Human rights advocates on Thursday sharply condemned the Supreme Court’s decision that the U.S. government can block the testimony of two former Central Intelligence Agency contractors for a Polish criminal investigation into the torture of a Guantánamo Bay detainee.
“Basically, the Supreme Court has allowed the CIA to decide what can be said in court about the torture of prisoners in CIA black sites,” tweeted Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “It’s really a disgraceful abdication of responsibility.”
Abu Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan and has been in U.S. custody since 2002. His attorneys are trying to hold Polish officials accountable for the torture he endured at a CIA facility in Stare Kiejkuty, Poland before being transferred in 2006 to Guantánamo Bay, where he remains.
In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. government can use the “state secrets privilege” to prevent the questioning of the contractors, James Elmer Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen.
In a pretty extraordinary dissent, Gorsuch, joined by Sotomayor, says the government wants to dismiss this suit to conceal evidence that it “brutally” tortured Zubaydah (which is true).
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) March 3, 2022
“Today’s ruling will make it much harder, going forward, for victims of government misconduct that occurs in secret to obtain evidence helping to prove that the conduct was unlawful,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.
“Although this case, specifically, is a narrow dispute about specific evidence concerning the CIA’s alleged torture of Abu Zubaydah in Poland,” Vladeck explained, “it’s likely to have far broader and more troubling ramifications going forward.”