If POTUS Can Order Assassination of US Citizen w/No Due Process, Can He Order Torture, Too?

Glenn Greenwald and Mark Mazzetti tell the story of 19-year old American citizen Gulet Mohamed who was taken into custody by the Kuwaitis after the US, while Mohamed was staying with an uncle in Kuwait, put him on the no-fly list. In the two weeks the Kuwaitis have held him, Mohamed says he was subjected to:

  • Physical beatings of his feet with sticks
  • Stress positions
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Exposure to cold
  • Threats of electrical shock
  • Threats to his mother

In other words, this US citizen, held by a close ally after coming up on a review of the no-fly list, was subjected to some of the worst kinds of torture that President Obama has purportedly ended.

Over the course of his interrogation, an official from the US Embassy and agents from the FBI visited him.

What seems to have happened is that the government, seeing a young Muslim kid from Virginia travel to Yemen (to study for a brief period of time) and Somalia (to stay with family), decided he must have ties to Anwar al-Awlaki (remember that Awlaki once preached at a Virginia mosque). They may have tried to contact him via someone claiming to know Mohamed from his mosque in Virginia. When Mohamed said he didn’t know that person, he was picked up when he went to the airport to renew his Kuwaiti visa. His Kuwaiti interrogators (though some spoke English) asked him whether he had met with Awlaki or other militants.

“Are you a terrorist?” they asked, according to his account.

“No,” he replied.

“Do you know Anwar?” his interrogators asked, referring to Mr. Awlaki.

“I’ve never met him,” Mr. Mohamed recalled saying.

“You are from Virginia, you have to know him,” they responded, according to Mr. Mohamed. From 2001 to 2002, Mr. Awlaki was the imam of a prominent mosque in northern Virginia.

And in response to his answers that he hadn’t met with Awlaki or other militants, they tortured him, accusing him of lying.

I assume when asked whether they ordered up this interrogation, and whether or not they knew it would involve torture, the government will “pretend” they are shocked that a close ally engaged in such treatment. I assume they will disavow any role in the torture, at the hands of our allies, of a US citizen.

Either that, or they’ll just invoke state secrets, as they did when Anwar al-Awlaki’s family sued to find out the authority the President has relied upon to order the assassination of an American citizen.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. BoxTurtle says:

    No due process?!? The president himself discusses the hit list with his advisors! How much due process do you want? /s

    If I were congress, I wouldn’t be so eager to allow the president this power. You never know when we might get a president who understands where the real risks to our country are coming from.

    “In the special election tomorrow, 55 representatives and 10 senators will be selected to fill the seats vacated during the Presidents last visit to the hill. This election is especially important, since the new senators will be voting on the confirmation of 5 new Supreme Court Justices”

    Boxturtle (In other news, Fox has announced their replacement commentators…)

  2. hopeful says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Running_Man_(film)

    Stephen King must be some kind of oracle. When are we going to start broadcasting the torture and capture of american citizen’s on TV? According to “Running Man” we only have 6 more years.

    I am not sure any article gets me more depressed than hearing about government sponsored torture, especially if it involves kids.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In the name of Security as Peace, may the government be immune from liability from claims that it makes up stuff about its citizens with no evidence, that it tortures them and strands them in no man’s land. Amen.

    I’m sure Mr. Daley and his new chief White House spokesperson will soon have that prayer down perfectly.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Among the explicitly banned interrogation methods is threatening serious harm to one’s family. Per Mazzetti,

    He said that his interrogators told him they would have American officials detain his mother in Virginia and that “he would never see her again” if he did not tell the truth about his connections to terrorists.

    All of which suggests that under Obama, as much or more as under Bush, the notion of using any of this information in a court of law is still considered quaint.

  5. WilliamOckham says:

    This is thoroughly depressing. When are people going to wake up and realize that if they can do this to Gulet Mohamed, they can do this to anyone. We will soon be left with the merest shell of democratic forms.

    What’s next? Are they just going to preemptively torture anyone on the no-fly list?

    • TheOrA says:

      Ding ding! WilliamOckham wins the prize!

      When are people going to wake up and realize that if they can do this to Gulet Mohamed, they can do this to anyone.

      I tell people the same thing all the time. The people with a brain cringe, shuffle their feet, shrug and eventually say “yeah but what can we do about it?”

      The people without a brain…well, I usually don’t hang around to much longer after that conversation.

      In my opinion, the system is so obviously corrupt and unresponsive to the actual needs of the people that there is a malaise of apathy over the populace. Not to mention the web of falsehoods and distractions spun by “the media” to keep the citizens confused, complacent, in-the-dark, or even on-board with whatever the powerful have done, would like to do, or are planning on doing.

      No one is going to scream until the bad stuff arrives on their doorstep and of course then it is too late.

  6. prostratedragon says:

    While we’re near the subject, Bruce Dixon has been following the repatriation, if that’s what it is, of some of the ugliest tactics by the domestic prison establishment.

    Specifically, in Georgia’s Macon State Prison, a recent peaceful prison strike has been met with various harsh reprisals which might include the transport of an injured prisoner, Terrance Dean, in order to hide him from possible discovery of his condition by his family or inspectors. The same was done to some of the U.S. prisoners in Afghanistan and elsewhere when the International Committee of the Red Cross came for its routine inspections.

    As the Dean family have legal representation, it is possible that we will hear more about this soon.

  7. tjbs says:

    I intend to contact my new Senator looney Tooney and ask for his position in writing on CAT enforcement of the traitors who did, saw, heard, directed, came up with this criminal idea and anyone else who was involved in the torture regime.

    Also the Republican rep who beat Pat Murphy ,fair and square on Diebold’s finest,can expect to answer some torturous questions.

    To be fair Pat Murphy never followed up on the 108 murders during questioning or the three missing thoraxes from camp no (we don’t know about).

    Arline and Bob Casey both passed on the question of the two missing kids we may have tortured to locate their father.

  8. gmoke says:

    We are a torture nation and Obama is a torture President. The Bush/Cheney gang will get away with starting an illegal war and mainstreaming torture. This is no longer a functioning democracy nor a “civilized” nation.

    As the French say, “Indignez vous.” Get angry but get smart about it too.

    Thanks, Marcy, for all you do.

  9. PJEvans says:

    “You are from Virginia, you have to know him,”

    So if you’re from Texas, you must know Shrub personally; if you’re from Illinois, you must know Obama personally.

    Great reasoning by microscopic brains?