Wil Wheaton has a good take on it:
Let’s assume you travel to China for some reason, and you and a friend are picked up by their police force. You didn’t do anything wrong, you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It happens. You’re not told why you are being detained, and you’re not allowed to contact your family, an attorney, or the US embassy.
The authorities take you both into separate areas, and your friend is tortured for days on end. Eventually, he agrees with his captors that he heard you were plotting some terrorist act. He knows it isn’t true, but he finally reached a point where he’d say anything to get them to stop torturing him. This is tragic, but it also happens.
So the police put you on trial, where they say that they have this confession from your friend, who has since mysteriously disappeared, taken to another location for his safety.
You can’t rebut the hearsay testimony, but it’s pretty clear and damning: he says he heard you plotting to blow something up. He even signed a document that supports his statements, including some scary specifics. Sure, it’s for places you never talked about, but since he’s not there, and because the government has decided to keep those details classified, you can’t rebut or challenge that evidence, either.
You’re found guilty, and eventually you’re executed. All because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and were not given a fair trial to prove your innocence.
That’s the state of America today.
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