As longtime readers of my blog know, I have long maintained that it is the national-security branch of the federal government that runs the government, especially when it comes to foreign affairs. The other three branches, while being permitted to have the veneer of running the government, actually operate in support of the national-security branch.
This is also the thesis set forth in a book that I have long recommended, entitled National Security and Double Government by Michael J. Glennon, professor of law at Tufts University.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in a case involving the CIA provides a perfect example of this phenomenon.
The case involved a man named Abu Zubaydah, who the CIA accused of being a terrorist as part of its much-vaunted worldwide “war on terrorism.” After taking Zubaydah captive some 20 years ago, the CIA subjected him to brutal torture, including 80 hours of waterboarding, hundreds of hours of live burial, and “rectal rehydration.” It should be pointed out that U.S. officials have never convicted Zubaydah of a crime.
Zubaydah was tortured at CIA “black sites,” such as one that the CIA operated in Poland, one of the former Warsaw Pact countries that was absorbed by NATO. Later, he was transferred to the Pentagon’s and the CIA’s torture and prison center at Guantanamo Bay.
The reason that Zubaydah was tortured was that CIA and Pentagon officials were convinced that he was a high-ranking figure in al Qaeda, which the CIA later concluded was a mistake. Nonetheless, Zubaydah remains incarcerated at Gitmo, where for 20 years the CIA and the Pentagon steadfastly failed to grant him a speedy trial, a right guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
Zubaydah filed a legal action seeking to take depositions of two private-sector individuals who served as torturers for the CIA. He wanted them to testify under oath as to everything they did to him.
The CIA objected, arguing that Zubadah’s legal action should be dismissed on two grounds: (1) The depositions of the two torturers would inevitably reveal the fact that the CIA maintained a black site in Poland, which, the CIA maintains, falls within the state-secrets doctrine that the Supreme Court, in another act of extreme deference, awarded the CIA decades ago; and (2) It would breach a promise that the CIA entered into with Poland to keep their joint dark-side activities secret.
Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, deferred to the CIA and dismissed Zubaydah’s lawsuit. The Court held that “national security” dictated that the CIA would be permitted to keep secret the location of its black sites and the details of its dark-side activities, including torture. It’s just tough luck for victims of CIA and Pentagon torture, kidnapping, rendition, indefinite detention, assassination, and other totalitarian-like dark-side activity.
Needless to say, if a similar legal action were to be brought in Russia, China, or North Korea — all of which also have national-security state forms of government — the judicial ruling would be the same. In every national-security state, most everyone within the government pays extreme deference to the military-intelligence part of the government and gives them free rein to do whatever they want to people.