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.

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq Sorry. Where did I say that? I didn't. You're straw manning again, as usual. @JesselynRadack @BradMossEsq
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emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq Abt what the jury heard? Me. @JesselynRadack @BradMossEsq
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emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq I have said to those who have asked that 1) Hunt was desperate 2) obv can't be true. @JesselynRadack @BradMossEsq
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emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq Which has nothing to do with what came into the trial (again, not as fact, which I said) @JesselynRadack @BradMossEsq
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emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq That may be your opinion. But that doesn't change the transcript or sworn testimony. @BradMossEsq @JesselynRadack
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emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq So when I write abt facts--not Hunt's sworn claims--fair to say you weren't lawyer who called? @BradMossEsq @JesselynRadack
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emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq No. I'm reporting what the jury heard, I said ZERO abt legal strategy. @BradMossEsq @JesselynRadack
5mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq Because I actually attended the trial, which you didn't? Because it was? @JesselynRadack @BradMossEsq
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emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq Which I wrote in the piece, which you claim you've read. @JesselynRadack @BradMossEsq
7mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq That's your explanation. Not Hunt's, so not what jury heard. @JesselynRadack @BradMossEsq
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emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq Again, as I noted, it was not entered as fact. But jury still heard it. @BradMossEsq @JesselynRadack
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emptywheel @MarkSZaidEsq yes. And it must be or you would have testified. But it came in nevertheless. @BradMossEsq @JesselynRadack
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