Follow us on social

Camp_delta_guantanamo_bay_cuba

Our father's death on 9/11 was used to justify US torture and other illegal acts

A coalition of families has filed a brief in the Zubaydah case and say the secrecy, impunity and abuse was a stain on their loved ones' names.

Analysis | Global Crises

On October 6, for the first time in over a decade, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving a prisoner held at the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay. United States v. Zubaydah presents the question: do courts have the ability to separate classified from non-classified evidence in order to allow a case to proceed? The information in question — testimony regarding suspected terrorist detainee Abu Zubaydah’s torture in black sites abroad. 

Since 9/11, the U.S. government has invoked the “state secrets” privilege time and again to shield the public from knowledge about its human rights abuses and violations of law. As a result, many Americans do not know the full extent of the U.S. government’s post-9/11 history of torture and abuse — and, until recently, neither did we. 

On September 11, 2001, we were three and five years old. Our father, Brian Joseph Murphy, worked in the North Tower and was killed when the first plane hit. At the time of his death, we were small children, too young to comprehend the enormity of our loss and its implications for both our family and the world. It was only much later that we learned of the events described in this case — the birth of the torture and interrogation program; the opening of the detention center at Guantánamo; the atrocities committed both at home and abroad — and how often the names of the 9/11 victims were used to justify the government’s abuse.  

Our ignorance was not solely due to age. The government has made a concerted effort to hide its transgressions and prevent declassification of these events. The prime example is the detention center at Guantánamo. Many people, including family members of those who died on 9/11, do not know that five men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks remain stuck in pre-trials hearings. Soon after we learned of the hearings, we decided to travel to Guantánamo to witness the proceedings ourselves, hoping to reclaim our voices as victims and see firsthand what has been done in our father’s name. 

Our visit to Guantánamo in 2018 was an education in how arguments about the need to protect national security delay justice and prevent accountability for both 9/11 and its aftermath. Although we spent a full week on site, we were only permitted to watch two days of hearings — the other days were closed to all but attorneys due to discussions of “classified” information, mostly relating to the government’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation program.

Moreover, the hearings we were permitted to watch were hardly transparent: we sat in an observer’s room, separated from the lawyers and detainees by a soundproof Plexiglass barrier and a 40-second time delay. This protocol is deemed necessary to prevent the accidental release of information that threatens national security but in practice serves to conceal information related to torture and protect those responsible for perpetrating abuse. 

After our trip to Guantánamo, we joined September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, an organization created by family members of 9/11 victims who advocate for nonviolent solutions and seek justice according to the rule of law. Last month, we joined Peaceful Tomorrows in filing its first amicus brief, on behalf of Mr. Zubaydah. We come from different perspectives, but we all agree that the secrecy, impunity, and abuse in the aftermath of 9/11 is a stain on our family members’ names — and that true justice requires true accountability for these acts. 

One of the founding principles of PT is to bring those responsible for the 9/11 attacks to justice in accordance with the principles of international law. As family members, we feel particularly concerned with the impact of unchecked abuse of government secrecy in the 9/11 commissions — the issue at the heart of U.S. vs. Zubaydah. But this case is important to all Americans, as we have all been denied transparency for the injustices that have occurred over the past 20 years. Ensuring accountability is essential to prevent future atrocities and to uphold the rights that protect us all. 

Photo: DOD
Analysis | Global Crises
Ukraine's vaunted 'bread basket' soil is now toxic

Editorial credit: Jose HERNANDEZ Camera 51 / Shutterstock.com

Ukraine's vaunted 'bread basket' soil is now toxic

Europe

There’s no question that war leaves behind its lingering destruction. This includes both harm to people and to the environment. As the world marks the second year of Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, we must reflect on the impact of war on Ukraine, the resiliency of its people and global response to resolving the issues of bomb contamination.

Roughly one-third of Ukraine's territory is contaminated. This is the size of an average country in Europe. Ukraine is currently experiencing the worst environmental disaster in terms of soil pollution per unit of time.

keep readingShow less
At the Hague, US more isolated than ever on Israel-Palestine

Judge Nawaf Salam, president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), speaks during a public hearing held by ICJ to allow parties to give their views on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories before eventually issuing a non-binding legal opinion in The Hague, Netherlands, February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

At the Hague, US more isolated than ever on Israel-Palestine

Middle East

The gulf between the United States and the rest of the world — in particular the Global South — on the Israel-Palestine conflict remains sharp and wide.

This was demonstrated yet again at The Hague last week, where the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is hearing a case triggered by a U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) resolution in December 2022 seeking an advisory opinion on the “legal consequences” of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

keep readingShow less
Biden officials want Russian frozen assets to fund Ukraine war
Janet Yellen, United States Secretary of the Treasury. (Reuters)

Biden officials want Russian frozen assets to fund Ukraine war

QiOSK

On Tuesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen strongly endorsed efforts to tap frozen Russian central bank assets in order to continue to fund Ukraine.

“There is a strong international law, economic and moral case for moving forward,” with giving the assets, which were frozen by international sanctions following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, to Kyiv, she said to reporters before a G7 meeting in San Paulo.

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis

Latest