Embarrassment-Free Show Trials

The Miami Herald (which is doing good work on the Gitmo show trials) has a description of some of the ways the military is ensuring that the Gitmo show trials don’t lead to the release of any embarrassing information.

A defense lawyer lets slip at the war court convening here that a battlefield commander changed an Afghanistan firefight report in a way that seemed to help a U.S. government murder case. Reporters hear the field commander’s name but are forbidden to report it.

In another case, a judge approves the release of a captive’s interrogation video showing the blurred face of an American agent. But a federal prosecutor on loan to the Pentagon withholds it “out of an abundance of caution.”

Even as the U.S. government edges toward full-blown, war-crimes trials by military commission here, with more hearings next week, all sides are grappling with what information can be made public and what must be kept secret.

Consider: A new courtroom here sequesters Pentagon-approved spectators behind a soundproofed window. If a terror suspect tries to shout about his treatment in U.S. custody, a military censor can mute the audio feed that observers hear.

Under rules that protect interrogation techniques, the Pentagon’s war court won’t let the reputed 9/11 architect, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, say he was waterboarded — something the CIA director, Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, confirmed on Feb. 5.

This will, I suspect, make for a very interesting First Amendment case before the show trials are done (and yes, the ACLU is already working on just that thing). Until those cases work their way through the courts, though, I hope we see more articles like this. They expose the degree to which these are show trials. And the degree to which the military is worried about not just sensitive security information, but also embarrassing information such as the name of the Colonel who allegedly framed Omar Khadr for murder, will be released.

And if there were any doubt about the speciousness of the claim, compare what Gordon England says when he has a pragmatic reason to want to avoid showing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed publicly:

Gordon England, deputy secretary of defense, issued a memo banning the release of Guantánamo detainee photos. The Pentagon is bound by the Geneva Conventions not to humiliate detainees, it said, and “We respect the dignity of all persons.”

Then this, ‘Geneva Conventions prohibit the use of images that could be deemed `propaganda,’ and because I don’t know or can control what others may do with it — I don’t want to be in the position of violating the law — thus I’m exercising caution.”

With the seeming ubiquitous pictures of KSM just after he was arrested–in which he happened to look like the hairy drunk who lives next door.

I guess some propaganda is more embarrassing than other propaganda.

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

54 Responses to Embarrassment-Free Show Trials

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  • 26
  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 30
  • 31
  • 32
  • 33
  • 34
  • 35
  • 36
  • 37
  • 38
  • 39
  • 40
  • 41
  • 42
  • 43
  • 44
  • 45
  • 46
  • 47
  • 48
  • 49
  • 50
  • 51
  • 52
  • 53
  • 54

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @mike_stark @AriMelber But, hey, there is nmo reason the media sou;d understand or cover that with real criminal trial experts.
4hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @mike_stark @AriMelber ... as ANY other GJ would get. Bet just leaves GJ w/a bunch of statute cites+says good luck. Which is NEVER done.
4hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @mike_stark @AriMelber ...for a vote as "draft indictment" by the GJ. This is months long+I bet McCulloch never submits a draft indictment..
4hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @mike_stark @AriMelber ...this would, with not much variance, be a 2-3 hr grand jury presentation, with definitive charges submitted...
4hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @mike_stark @AriMelber Here is what I DO know from 30 yrs crim law experience (27 trial level): in ANY other homicide under similar facts...
4hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @DavidSug @walterwkatz Yup on all fronts.
4hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @DavidSug @walterwkatz I am talking to you Sugerman! Honestly, from what I know, none of this is secure. But, still, sometimes stop+wonder
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @DavidSug @walterwkatz I separate ID's, but apparently things catching up to me.
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Whoa, just switched from the Dead Pirates game, and Law+Order SVU has an elevator video case! #SnatchedFromHeadlines
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @DavidSug @walterwkatz Yo, young, but in law school. Watched that commercial live and was mesmerized.
6hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @walterwkatz @DavidSug I don't use Chr or FFox
6hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @shenebraskan @DavidSug @walterwkatz Tried it long ago. Was too slow and worthless.
7hreplyretweetfavorite