A few of you have alerted me to this judgment from the Binyam Mohamed case in the UK. As a reminder, Mohamed has been trying to force the British government to release information about torture he suffered at the hands of Americans and Pakistanis. But the British government refuses to allow the information to be revealed publicly because–they say–it’ll threaten the relationship (and intelligence sharing) between the UK and US. Here Andy Worthington’s post on this ruling, and here’s Clive Stafford Smith’s.
The ruling suggests that Americans were using torture techniques on Binyam Mohamed in April and May 2002, before use of those techniques was given (dubious) legal sanction with the Bybee Two memo on August 1, 2002.
The ruling is sort of like a Russian egg, arguing that passages from one ruling explaining why passages from an earlier ruling should not be redacted themselves should not be redacted. It is basically an argument in favor of making four passages from an October judgment (these are four passages from ruling five–I’ll call them 4/5) publicly available. The Foreign Secretary David Miliband doesn’t want those passages to become available because doing so would reveal what was redacted from an earlier judgment (these are seven passages from ruling one–I’ll call them 7/1).
[The Foreign Secretary argues that] the four passages in the fifth judgment [4/5] indicate what is in the seven paragraphs redacted from the first judgment [7/1].
But the High Court argues that even if 7/1 should not be released (they don’t buy this, but use the assumption to make their argument), there is no reason 4/5 cannot be.
Now, the High Court appears to be using the Bybee Two memo (the one laying out the 10 techniques approved for use with Abu Zubaydah) as its basis for arguing that 4/5 can be released. They note that “the entire content” of 4/5 is in the public domain. The have already unredacted a passage in this ruling reading,
One of those memoranda dated 1 August 2002 [from Jay Bybee to John Rizzo] made clear that the techniques described were those employed against Mr. Zubdaydah.
And they note that one of the paragraphs redacted in 4/5 “is a verbatim quotation from the memoranda made public on 16 April 2009.” From this, we can assume that the content of that passage is an exact quotation from the Bybee Two memo.