Everybody Talks: Evaluating the Admissibility of Coercively Obtained Evidence in Trials by Military Commission
54 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2010
Date Written: April 28, 2010
Modern coercive interrogation techniques are devastatingly effective. Skilled interrogators can break even the most hardened subject by engaging in a concerted attack on his psyche. Notorious torture machines such as the rack or the iron maiden have been replaced by an ingenious system that relies on psychological coercion and self-induced physical pain to break a subject's resistance. Techniques such as sensory deprivation, stress positions, environmental manipulation, exploitation of individual phobias and weaknesses, attacks on cultural and religious sensibilities, or endless marathons of interrogation sessions eventually shatter the psychological walls that separate the will of the interrogator from the subject's ability to resist.
Given the effectiveness of coercive interrogation in extracting confessions and admissions, a question naturally arises concerning the evidentiary value and admissibility of this evidence at trial. This article specifically examines admissibility issues pertaining to this evidence in trials by military commission and suggests an analytical template for use in evaluating coercively obtained evidence at trial.
Keywords: military commissions, evidence, interrogation, torture, military justice, national security, courts-martial, coercive interrogation, Guantanamo Bay
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