Secrecy Continues to Shroud Military Commissions

Undeterred by having been barred from attending the military commissions herself, Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald had an excellent article on Monday about the ongoing lack of transparency of the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay. Despite President Obama’s pledges of a more open and transparent administration in his early days in office, she reports that access to the commissions is just as restricted as it’s always been. As I’ve noted before, observers who are allowed in to see the hearings, including Human Rights First, are unable to see copies of the legal documents relevant to the case being heard in advance of the hearings. In a regular civilian federal court, all documents are posted publicly as soon as they’re filed with the court, unless the judge has issued a special protective order to conceal them. There were no such protective orders involved when I was last at Gitmo, observing the hearings in the case of Omar Khadr. Still, we observers had to request special access to copies of the new rulebook covering the commissions, and to copies of the legal motions being argued. The commission officials eventually posted them online. Too bad internet access is so bad at Guantanamo Bay that we couldn’t actually read the hundreds of pages of legal documents till we’d returned to our offices back in New York. The next military commission hearing is scheduled for early June in the case of Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi. So far, we have no idea what the subject of the hearing is because, as usual, none of the relevant documents have been made public.


Published on May 19, 2010


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