Evidence From Torture Is Usable, U.S. Asserts

Tribunals reviewing detention of foreigners as enemy combatants are free to rely on results from such tactics, an official tells court.
U.S. military panels reviewing the detention of foreigners as enemy combatants would be allowed to use evidence gained through torture in deciding whether to keep them imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the government said in court Thursday.

The acknowledgment by Deputy Associate Atty. Gen. Brian Boyle came during a U.S. District Court hearing. Boyle said, however, that he did not believe any torture had occurred at Guantanamo.

The hearing was held on lawsuits brought by some of the 550 foreigners imprisoned at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

The foreigners' lawsuits challenge their detention without charges.

Attorneys for the prisoners argued that some were held solely on evidence gained through torture, which they said violated fundamental fairness and U.S. due process standards.

But Boyle argued in a similar hearing Wednesday that the detainees "have no constitutional rights enforceable in this court."

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon asked whether a detention would be illegal if it were based solely on evidence gathered by torture, because "torture is illegal; we all know that."

Boyle replied that if the military's combatant status review tribunals "determine that evidence of questionable provenance were reliable, nothing in the due process clause [of the Constitution] prohibits them from relying on it."

Leon asked whether there were any restrictions on using evidence produced by torture.

Boyle replied that the United States would never adopt a policy that would have barred it from acting on evidence that could have prevented the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, even if the data came from questionable practices, such as torture by a foreign power.

Evidence based on torture is not admissible in U.S. courts. Leon asked if U.S. courts could review detentions based on evidence from torture conducted by U.S. personnel.

Boyle said torture was against U.S. policy and any allegations of it would be "forwarded through command channels for military discipline."

He added, "I don't think anything remotely like torture has occurred at Guantanamo."

But Boyle noted that some U.S. soldiers there had been disciplined for misconduct, including a female interrogator who removed her blouse during questioning.

Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times

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