Leading NGOs Urge Military Judge to Allow Public to Hear Details of 9/11 Case

Leading NGOs Urge Military Judge to Allow Public to Hear Details of 9/11 Case

New York – Four leading non-governmental organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief today opposing a court order on classified information in the military commission case of the alleged 9/11 conspirators, United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, et al. The order is overly broad and would unjustifiably prevent public scrutiny of the most important and highly-anticipated trial at Guantanamo Bay, the groups say.

The order, which was signed by Military Judge Stephen R. Henley on December 18, 2008, goes far beyond protecting documents and information that have been classified by intelligence agencies. It greatly expands the definition of “classified information” to include any information merely “referring” to various government agencies, including the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, and the FBI. It further allows the court, under certain circumstances, to classify information already in the public domain and presumptively classifies “any statements made by the accused.”

The amicus brief was filed by the American Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch. All four groups are regular observers of the military commission proceedings at Guantanamo Bay.

The protective order “diminishes the fairness and transparency of these proceedings by permitting the government to exercise virtually unlimited authority to exclude the press, public, and trial observers – including amici,” the brief states. As a result, the groups ask the court to rescind the protective order or to modify it to require individualized determinations about whether specific information should be withheld for reasons of national security or personal safety.

To read the amicus brief filed by the groups in the 9/11 case, please visit:



For more information, please contact:

In Chicago, for the American Bar Association, Nancy Slonim: (312) 988-6132 (o), 847-254-5714 (c)

In New York, for the American Civil Liberties Union, James Freedland: (212) 549-2666, [email protected]

In New York, for Human Rights First, Deborah Colson: (212) 845-6247 (o), (917) 543-6490 (c)

In Washington, D.C., for Human Rights Watch, Jennifer Daskal: (202) 612-4349 (o), (202) 365-3758 (c)


Published on January 14, 2009


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