The Terror Trials, Torture, and Starbucks

The New Yorker has put up the entirety of Jane Meyer’s “The Trial” on its site. It is a decent overview of how ideals clash with pragmatism and politics and recaps a lot of the military tribunal and detention debate so far, including this nugget from the Washington Post, reported a year and one day ago today:

Bush Administration officials, too, had recognized Mohammed’s abuse as an impediment to prosecution. After [Khalid Sheikh] Mohammed arrived at Guantánamo, a team of F.B.I. and military interrogators tried to elicit from him and his co-defendants the same confessions that the C.I.A. had obtained about the 9/11 plot, but by using only legal means of interrogation. (According to the Washington Post, he was enticed with Starbucks coffee.) By 2008, the Bush Administration believed that this so-called Clean Team had compiled sufficient evidence to charge Mohammed and the others with capital murder.

Starbucks coffee as effective as waterboarding? I wonder why Starbucks Corp. couldn’t fit this into their national advertising somehow? (The original WaPo article reads: “were given food whenever they were hungry as well as Starbucks coffee at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba”)

Jokes aside (my favorite is in the comments section of this NYT Lede followup: “Maybe they made Khalid pay for the Starbucks. That could be seen as harsh treatment.”), Meyer’s article is a good primer in how convoluted the issue of the terror trials are: the Starbucks+gentle treatment was part of a plan to re-gather the same evidence (via the “Clean Team”) that the CIA allegedly gained through abusive interrogations so that KSM could be tried in civilian court, which, Meyer asserts, is the only way to get other countries to see KSM’s trial as legitimate and to have them finally accept released Gitmo detainees.

Read the rest of “The Trial”

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