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Court deals another blow to transparency at the military commissions at Guantanamo. Josh Gerstein of Politico reports:

The appeals court overseeing the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay has rejected, at least for now, an effort by media organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge an order governing secrecy in one of the terrorism courts.
The result of the ruling is that the press and the public remain in the dark about the military commission proceedings at Gitmo. Excessive secrecy has similarly plagued the proceedings in the case against Army Private Bradley Manning. The New York Times reported earlier this week:
Reporters covering the government’s prosecution of Pfc. Bradley Manning . . . have spent a year trying to pierce the veil of secrecy in what is supposed to be a public proceeding.
While the Manning proceedings are held before a Court Martial and the Gitmo proceedings are before Military Commissions, they have the same problems: arbitrary rules that limit press (and public) access.

The media organizations argued that the judge's protective order limiting press access to the military commissions violated their First Amendment rights:  

...the protective order entered in this case unlawfully abridges the First Amendment right of access by automatically excluding the press and public from all evidence and argument concerning “classified” information, without any judicial determination that disclosure of specific information would harm national security or threaten personal safety, and without any assessment of whether the information is already public.
When media organizations and the Center for Constitutional rights requested more access to Manning trial, the government responded by releasing a mere 84 for some 400 documents filed in the case:
Finally, at the end of last month, in response to numerous Freedom of Information requests from news media organizations, the court agreed to release 84 of the roughly 400 documents filed in the case, suggesting it was finally unbuttoning the uniform a bit to make room for some public scrutiny.
But, as the Times reported, the released documents were hardly a model for transparency:
Then again, the released documents contained redactions that are mystifying at best and at times almost comic. One of the redacted details was the name of the judge, who sat in open court for months.
The pervasive secrecy in these military proceedings is antithetical to the democratic concept of an open and public trial. While all experts in and out of government agree that far too much information is deemed "classified," that does not stop the Executive branch from using the broken classification system to shield its practices from the public. The courts should serve to check the Executive branch, not sanction its use of classification to promote excessive secrecy in proceedings that should be public.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (20+ / 0-)

    My book, TRAITOR: THE WHISTLEBLOWER & THE "AMERICAN TALIBAN," is Amazon's #1 Best Seller in Human Rights Books for February 2012.

    by Jesselyn Radack on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:59:06 AM PDT

  •  So is the Democratic Party still the lesser evil? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice, aliasalias, gerrilea
    On foreign policy, militarism, the kill list and the national security state, I think the evidence is clear — Obama is still to the right of Bush.
    Is the Democratic Party still the “lesser evil”? If so, in what sense?

    Let me get this straight.

    Secrecy in a public hearing. Check.

    Spying on all Americans without search warrant. Check.

    Will the Republic recover?

    •  The "protections" in the Amendments (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Horace Boothroyd III

      only apply when a person is in jeopardy of losing liberty in prison or life entirely. Otherwise, the instructions are hortatory -- what agents of government ought not to do and might not do, if they weren't subject to the temptations to snoop and spy and violate people's privacy with gossip on a daily basis.
      What we probably need, instead of an equal rights amendment is a human rights amendment that comes with penalties attached.

      We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 06:54:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Really? I've never heard that before? (0+ / 0-)

        That the constitution only applies when a person is in jeopardy of losing liberty "in prison or life entirely".

        Being detained, even for 5 minutes, as per the Supreme Court, is a loss of liberty.

        As for the 4th Amendment, that's been dead for a while now.

        The constitution isn't a "suggestion", nor are the Bill of Rights.

        They must follow those rules we gave them, period.  Anything else is grounds for criminal charges of "high crimes and misdemeanors", IMO.

        "High crimes" were never defined, let's do that now.  Violating the instructions set out in the constitution should be a no-brainer and a crime.  Intentionally doing so, should be even "higher".

        Such as the FISA law, the NDAA, the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, the Animal Enterprises Act, the Monsanto Protection Act, etc.

        How about we go further and define misdemeanors as conflicts of interests, lying to the people (not related to perjury in a court) and of course betrayal of public trust.

        There, that should cover most of the problems of lying to get elected, lying when naming bills and covering up their lying by Orwellian Doublespeak.

        -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

        by gerrilea on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 01:31:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Government by the people is a long row to hoe. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Don midwest, gerrilea

    We have over two centuries of tradition, in which democracy was defined as a system in which the public gets to choose its absolute rulers, instead of having them selected by the deity or the sword. That the people govern remained an aspiration as long as the select enjoyed "sovereign immunity" and the majority of the population was deprived of the franchise. It's easy to say the people govern; hard to implement when females, slaves, natives and recent immigrants are precluded from participation.

    It's only been a little over 60 years since the first cracks in the hegemony of the old guard appeared. Keep in mind that the military was sustained by involuntary servitude until the active enforcement of the draft was terminated in 1973, even as males are coerced to register to this day. Also, involuntary servitude continues as a legal punishment for crime.

    The Amendments to the Constitution in which individual human and civil rights are mentioned contain no guarantee and no enforcement mechanism. Moreover, like the main body of the Constitution, the amendments are addressed to AGENTS of government, couched as prohibitions instead of the duties and obligations enumerated in the main. In no instance is there any recourse to counter negligence or malfeasance, other than dismissal from office by term limits, impeachment or death. The framers of the Constitution gave lip service to the people, upon whose consent their rule depends in consequence of the numbers involved, but made sure to protect their own flank.

    Secrecy is the key to power. There is no reason to think judges will be averse to using it. The Pentagon's classification system is suspect. But, the first step towards opening it up is to validate that the suspicion is well founded. 84 documents should be enough to make a start on figuring the revelant categories of information out.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 06:48:32 AM PDT

    •  Good points the one thing we haven't done (0+ / 0-)

      much of is "impeachment".  That is and always has been under-utilized option.

      The problem is getting the courts to do their job.  Maybe a "court" of citizens randomly selected by address instead of a creature of the system itself.

      And the 2nd Amendment was always the final option until they established our permanent standing army:

      3.  That government ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the people; and that the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive to the good and happiness of mankind
      Pg 778, The First Debates In Congress:

          "A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms".

        This declaration of rights, I take it, is intended to secure the people against the mal-administration of the Government; if we could suppose that, in all cases, the rights of the people would be attended to, the occasion for guards of this kind would be removed. Now, I am apprehensive, sir, that this clause would give an opportunity to the people in power to destroy the constitution itself. They can declare who are those religiously scrupulous, and prevent them from bearing arms.

          "What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. Now, it must be evident, that, under this provision, together with their other powers, Congress could take such measures with respect to a militia, as to make a standing army necessary.

          Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins."

      I know these facts go contrary to what is claimed by many here on DK, but "them's the facts."

      -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

      by gerrilea on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 01:45:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Also-- (3+ / 0-)

    transparency is a sop. We do not need to be "looking through" the glass, with or whithout lights. What we need is inspection and re-inspection, a thorough review, not by a general, but by the people.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 06:59:43 AM PDT

  •  You can thank Sen. Debbie Stabenow (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    (D- MI) for her vote in support of this secrecy for her vote supporting the Military Commissions Act in Congress.

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