The Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department have told a federal court that permitting lawyers access to high-level Qaeda suspects without tighter secrecy procedures could damage national security by revealing harsh “alternative interrogation methods” used in secret C.I.A. prisons overseas.
But lawyers for the suspects say the government’s insistence on secrecy is an effort to “conceal illegal conduct,” including the torture of the 14 accused Qaeda suspects who were moved from C.I.A. custody to the military’s detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in September.
So allowing Al Qaeda detainees access to their lawyers will damage national security because it might reveal that they’ve been tortured (“harsh alternative interrogation”). Or to put it differently: you can’t let ’em talk to their lawyers because then they might find out what the prisoners have really gone through. Much better to keep everyone in the dark, don’t you think? I recall somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my memory that we once had this piece of paper that forbade “cruel and inhuman punishment” and we once claimed we honored something with the name “Geneva” in it which forbade torture. But those days were long ago and far away. Now, we’re not encumbered by any of that rigamarole.