In his remarks, Mr. Bellinger claims that the system set up by the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is “not that different” from the well-established court martial system. One of the most significant differences between the two systems, however, is that the Military Commissions Act would allow the admission of evidence obtained through interrogation methods that involve “cruel, unusual or inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States,” at least when the interrogation in question took place prior to December 30, 2005. The admission of such evidence is constitutionally prohibited in courts martial as well as in civilian courts.
This section of the Military Commissions Act is only one of several that undermine the legal prohibition on torture by giving a free pass to various forms of “torture lite”—outrages on personal dignity, or cruel, inhuman, humiliating, and degrading treatment. What exactly do I mean by “torture lite”? Think about the pile of naked prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Think about the memorable shot of the terrified prisoner with a snarling dog in his face. Think of little Lyndie England leading her prisoner around on a dog leash.
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