Judge Bars Witness Discovered Through Coerced Interrogation
This morning, Judge Lewis Kaplan, presiding over the prosecution of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani in downtown Manhattan, ruled that a government witness who Ghailani identified while subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” in CIA custody cannot testify in the case because his testimony would be the product of unlawful coercion by the government. Ghailani, the first former Guantanamo detainee to be transferred to the United States for trial, is charged with helping to carry out the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. The trial is being closely watched as a sign of how other Guantanamo detainees’ cases might be handled by civilian federal courts. In a brief decision that he read from the bench this morning, Judge Kaplan said:
The Court has not reached this conclusion lightly. It is acutely aware of the perilous nature of the world in which we live. But the Constitution is the rock upon which our nation rests. We must follow it not only when it is convenient, but when fear and danger beckon in a different direction. To do less would diminish us and undermine the foundation upon which we stand.
The government asked for 48 hours to decide whether to appeal the judge’s ruling. Judge Kaplan adjourned the trial until next Tuesday.