Could Iraq Prisoner Abuse Affect US Terror Cases?


Some legal experts say that the photographs of abused Iraqi prisoners could affect the pending Supreme Court cases involving the war on terror, says the Los Angeles Times. The federal government’s “argument has been ‘trust us,’ and that argument has been deeply undermined,” said Yale University law Prof. Harold Koh.

The administration argued to the high court last month that the president had the exclusive power to decide the fate of those captured in the war on terrorism. In one case, several justices asked whether there was a legal check on abusing prisoners in order to get information. “Suppose the executive [branch] says mild torture will help get this information?” asked Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Deputy Solicitor Gen. Paul Clement replied that committing “an atrocity” against a prisoner was a crime and could result in the court-martial of a military officer. But when pressed, he added that “our executive doesn’t” do that sort of thing. “You have to recognize that in situations where there is a war … you have to trust the executive,” he said.

“In a close and difficult case like this, [the prison abuse photos] could tip the scales,” said Michael J. Glennon, an international law expert at Tufts University. “The overriding issue in these cases has been to what extent can you trust the executive to police itself. They say you should trust us to do the right thing, but the evidence now suggests they cannot be trusted. It requires legislative and judicial oversight.”


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