Obama Administration Defends Stupid Counterterrorism Decisions, Again

Only this time, those decisions were made by his own Administration:

The Department of Defense said Monday it acted correctly when it barred three journalists, including Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg, from covering military hearings at Guantánamo Bay.

But it left open the door to reinstating the reporters.

David A. Schulz, the attorney representing Rosenberg and reporters from Canwest News Service and the Toronto Star, had asked for a reversal of the coverage ban. The exclusion also affects a fourth reporter from The Globe and Mail who appealed independently.

“It is my determination that officials of the Department were correct to take the actions they did against these three individuals,” Bryan G. Whitman, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, wrote Monday in a letter to Schulz.

The stupid counterterrorism decision, of course, was to ban four journalists–including one who wrote a book on Omar Khadr and another with by far the most expertise on Gitmo–because they published the name of Joshua Claus. The seem to think people are too dumb to discover this stuff on their own. And it appears they’d like to avoid admitting that a guy who was convicted in relation to the death of Dilawar also implicitly threatened rape and death with Khadr. As a result, one of those acts which would, if done correctly, win some credibility with those we’re trying to persuade, is instead made out to be a kangaroo court where reporters are asked to purge their mind of all relevant knowledge when they walk in the trial room.

[Hi there Wheelheads, bmaz here – I am about to board the plane and Marcy is already in the air. We are going to San Francisco to cover closing arguments in the Prop 8 Gay Marriage case. You all behave, and keep the joint tidy. If there is WiFi in the plane I will post from there. Otherwise hoop it up and don’t completely drain the liquor cabinet]

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

61 replies
  1. klynn says:

    Still crazy that the gov is defending themselves against the stupidity of blocking the media from acknowledging the public knowledge of Joshua Claus. The gov has practiced censorship, not security, in their acts of setting the limit on naming him as well as barring the journalists for using information in the public domain.

    Joshua Claus has had his name in public print media so much, it should be the gov at fault. The gov hates the fact of the role Joshua Claus plays in the Khadr case. That is why they banned the use of his name.

    The Department of Defense said Monday it acted correctly..

    Remember, the Department of Defense is stating they acted correctly to censor in a case involving a nation that “claims” freedom of the press.

    Key word in our current history: “claims”.
    “Claiming” and “actually being” a free press are not the same.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      I don’t think it has anything to do with Claus, his name was in public long before that reporter worte it. This has everything to do with making sure the reporters know who’s boss.

      We really need to spend some bucks on ex-soviet consultants, they knew how to run show trials!

      Boxturtle (At least then DoD wouldn’t look so bloody inept. Embarassing)

      • klynn says:

        Oh, no doubt that was the ploy. It was entrapment for the sake of a power play. That is not lost on anyone.

        The act of entrapment by the gov was also an act of censorship of the use of public domain information.

        And the gov still hates the fact that Claus plays a role in the Khadr case.

      • phred says:

        I don’t think it has anything to do with Claus, his name was in public long before that reporter worte it. This has everything to do with making sure the reporters know who’s boss.

        I agree with this completely. I also think this bit from the article EW quotes in the post is more of the same:

        But it left open the door to reinstating the reporters.

        That sounds like more of a threat to me than anything else. Obama will only let the reporters in the door if they promise to behave properly, defer to the King, and play by his rigged rules.

        I would dearly love to see all of the press at Gitmo give a big ol’ FU to Obama and boycott the entire farce. You can’t have a show trial without the show.

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    It amazes me that ObamaLLP goes to this much trouble to cover their butts on this. Congress doesn’t care. The general public doesn’t care. But the groups that DO care are small and half of them are promoting that we aren’t hard enough on the Scary Borwn People.

    Keep the cases out of a real court. Keep the MSM on other stories. Disconnect the DFH bloggers with their sources at the trial. And above all, keep any potential adverse court decisions from coming down before Nov 2012. That’s the plan.

    God struck down the First Church of Tacky last night, perhaps he’ll take a potshot at ObamaLLP as long as he’s here.

    Boxturtle (If He chooses to do so, I will buy him a BIIIG sundae at Youngs)

  3. JohnLopresti says:

    I think it is a case of government still trying to understand what media has become. I am appreciative, however, that the government has opted to watch from a distance in the IX appeals court, in today*s news, as MEstrada serves as Yoo*s counsel++.

    ++ The short article is a synopsis which also links to court clerk reportage in full, though it looks like a subscription site.

    Yoo*s, and Bybee*s work, represent another side of why kangaroos have aggregated in a restricted venue with censors on property the US rent payments for which have languished uncashed by the **hosting** government for years as a token of the illicitude of the basis upon which occupation of that facility has continued.

  4. bobschacht says:

    …Bryan G. Whitman, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs…

    What are his qualifications? Is he strictly a PR guy? Or is his office one with legal responsibilities? is he a lawyer? IOW, why should anyone pay any attention to him, any more than one should have paid attention to Al Capone’s principal deputy assistant for PR when questioned about the charges against Capone?

    Or is he a student of Margolis, optioned off to DOD?

    Bob in AZ

    • BoxTurtle says:

      His offical Biography.

      Reads like he’s reasonably qualified for the position.

      As to why you should pay attention to him:

      1) He’s the only one talking.
      2) He’s the only one who’s going to be talking.
      3) The lie wouldn’t be any more credable coming from Holder himself. So use this and meet your deadline.

      Boxturtle (One full of crap spokesman is as good as any other)

  5. Frank33 says:

    I guess Whitman is the go to guy for Torture and assassination coverups. A privatized assassination army was revealed in Afghanistan. Murder and torture are part of the neo-con war criminals. But you are not allowed to talk about it in the Obama police state.

    Furlong’s interview with the paper marked his first public comment since the Defense Department investigation became public this week. Pentagon spokesman Bryan G. Whitman declined to discuss the investigation, saying, “We are still in the process of gathering the facts surrounding this to determine if there was any inappropriate conduct.”

    The specifics of what Furlong is alleged to have done remain unclear. Although news accounts have portrayed his program as contributing to efforts to target and kill insurgent leaders, several military officials said it never got that far. “Never did he feed information that resulted in any sort of kinetic action,” the official said.

  6. Frank33 says:

    The information warriors of the military have a thankless task, promoting the neo-con agenda of global domination. But Bryan Whitman, one of the top propagandists has officially recognized other taxpayer sponsored shills. The military rewards those who promote war, genocide, and the theft of the world’s resources. Who even knew there was a “Defense Information School”.

    Bryan G. Whitman, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, recognized the military’s top print, broadcast and visual information communicators at the Department of Defense Communicators of Excellence awards ceremony on May 29.

    “This is the Oscars and the Emmys of the Defense Department,” said Whitman, the guest speaker to an audience of about 200 people during the ceremony at the Defense Information School…

    The Thomas Jefferson Awards Program recognizes military- and civilian-employee print and broadcast journalists for outstanding achievements in furthering the objectives of DoD.

    • klynn says:

      My daughter’s school receives a newspaper for students which is produced through funding by DoD.

      …in furthering the objectives of DoD.

      Unfortunately, the objectives of DoD are not furthering the objectives of freedom and democracy.

      • Mary says:

        Seriously? What – they give advice on how to salute and march in concert? That’s odd.

        @11 – well, let’s see, she can stay away from the Khadr proceeding and report the known and knowable, or she can go to GITMO and commit to amnesia. Obama is such a lovely guy.

        And Canadian reports can either stay home and report away about Claus and his interrogation of Khadr, or go to GITMO and forget about someone involved in two interrogation torture killing being involved in the case.

        Such a lovely lovely guy.

        And this, so that the “world” can see these aren’t kangaroo trials, no no no no no, after all, the Kangaroos all got sent back to Oz when they mentioned Claus.

  7. Jim White says:


    It’s good to see that they at least are discussing the possibility of reinstating Carol Rosenberg. What a bunch of maroons…

    • BoxTurtle says:

      They will only reinstate her if they think they have tamed her.

      My bet is that she won’t be tamed, she won’t be reinstated, and she’ll write nasty stories about the entire situtation on a regular basis. Perhaps nasty enough to make the DoD regret their actions.

      Boxturtle (Don’t pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel – Twain)

  8. klynn says:

    Do we even know “why” the DoD banned the use of his name since it is in the public domain? What good reason has been given that could be considered legal?

    Just because DoD “set” the rule does not make it correct.

    • Mary says:

      I think they were trying to claim that letting it be known who did interrogations would make them “less safe” even though Claus has given interviews about being the interviewer.

    • emptywheel says:

      THeir argumet is that, absent someone in the court room telling people, no one could have put Interrogator #1 together with Joshua Claus.

      Unfortunately for them, skdadl had done so w/in minutes of the first article that DIDN’T mention him.

      Nevertheless, they believe skdadl doesn’t exist cause she’s a Canuck.

      • skdadl says:

        This woman remembers my mind better than I do m’self.

        But that’s true — a lot of people here follow the Khadr stories (there are several) closely, and we’d all read Michelle Shephard’s interview with Claus in the Star a couple of years ago. His name turns up now and again on discussion forums where groups follow the story. It’s a name that sticks in the mind — JOSHUA CLAUS.

  9. skdadl says:


    The DoD investigated itself and determined that it had acted correctly. Oh well then.

    I’m getting depressed. The Liberals here have just caved on our constitutional challenge to Steve (about Parliament’s right to see all the documents concerning prisoner transfers in Afghanistan, which the Speaker had upheld for the wee wimps). Basically, this is a replay of Obama deciding he likes a lot of them crazy powers Bush arrogated to himself; the Liberals are thinking that about Harper’s coup too.

    Our power parties are above the law. They just are. They’ve put themselves there, and there seems no way to stop them. What would Steve or Obama have to do that he couldn’t hide under one of those claims of privilege? Commit murder?

  10. bmaz says:

    Hi there Wheelheads, bmaz here – I am about to board the plane and Marcy is already in the air. We are going to San Francisco to cover closing arguments in the Prop 8 Gay Marriage case. You all behave, and keep the joint tidy. If there is WiFi in the plane I will post from there. Otherwise hoop it up and don’t completely drain the liquor cabinet.

    • fatster says:

      “Hoop it up”? You mean we gotta play basketball while he’s gone? How we going to do that and not spill our chocolate martinis? You go first, skdadl. I’ll just sit over here in this nice deck chair under the umbrella and keep score for you. Remember to throw the ball through the hoop from the top, though.

      • skdadl says:

        That’s a Muskoka chair you’re sitting in, fatster (I think you call them Adirondack chairs?), and it cost us two million bucks to set it up there beside the fake lake, which Petro is now filling with srs beer (to a maximum depth of 10 cms because everyone expects the international press to be falling in and needing rescue).

        • fatster says:

          A Moose-cocoa chair? Why’d y’all spend so much money on wooden chairs? You know the anarchists will just round them up and have a bonfire with them. You know, to roast marshmallows or weenies or whatever it is they do with all their bonfires.

          • skdadl says:

            Remember: we’re sharing?

            I don’t know this source, so I was reluctant to post it here yesterday. But, y’know, it’s poetry, so here is what purports to be an email from Julian to Lamo:

            In addition, it would be helpful if you described Mr. Manning, as a “whistleblower”, who had already lost his access over an unrelated issue, held no data, and was of no meaningful threat to anyone. In particular Mr. Manning was not an “alleged spy”, and it is wrong for you to describe him as such, or to suggest that there were no other approaches to resolving the situation.

            It would also be helpful to all concerned if you stopped trying to justify your behavior by whipping up sentiment against Mr. Manning in other ways. Your most effective personal strategy is to say you were scared due to your previous experiences, unthoughtful due to recent drug problems, and made a decision which you now bitterly regret and would under no circumstances repeat. Going around like a poor man’s Tsutomu, constantly drawing attention to yourself through the destruction of a young romantic outlaw figure, will leave you permanently reviled by history–and me.

            If he really wrote that, I am such a goner.

      • bobschacht says:

        What!!??? You guys were going to run away to SF for the weekend without an official agenda? Pretty sneaky. Does Mr. Wheel know about this?

        Bob in AZ

  11. bobschacht says:

    klynn @ 14 & Jim White @ 15,
    So, if someone repeats, or if enough people repeat, a mistake often enough, it becomes true?

    No wonder Obama is going easy on BushCo. They repeated so many lies so often that those lies are now accepted as Conventional Wisdom.

    Bob in AZ

  12. Loo Hoo. says:

    I, for one, didn’t know the name of JOSHUA CLAUS until the reporters were banned. Bet I’m not the only one.

    • skdadl says:

      There are other names that people once knew but Obama/Holder would prefer we all forget — like ABU ZUBAYDAH and AL-QAHTANI — because they are never going to be able to try those men, now destroyed in body and mind, but they are never going to release them either.

    • phred says:

      Dang, I didn’t realize beer thirty came so early today, that’s what I get for not turning up sooner… Make mine a Beamish in honor of the mistress. Got enough fancy drinks splashing around here at the moment ; )

    • emptywheel says:

      Jeebus. bmaz is barely gone!!

      I’m actually connecting through LV right now. Just being in the city removed all my wrinkles–it’s 98 here (can’t wait for Netroots Nation).

      They actually asked me for ID at the bar.

      • bobschacht says:

        I’m actually connecting through LV right now. Just being in the city removed all my wrinkles–it’s 98 here (can’t wait for Netroots Nation).

        They actually asked me for ID at the bar.

        Oh, good! We’re planning to go to Netroots Nation, too!

        They asked for your ID because you’re so sweet looking. That’s how you get those other newsy folks to tell you stuff, whereas if they actually knew who you are and what you can do, they might not talk to you at all!

        Bob in AZ

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