GITMO: The Same Old New Opaque Transparency

Last week we wondered what the appointment of the “new and improved” Gitmo Commander, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, would mean for the military commission system and upcoming big terror trials for the likes of al-Nashiri and KSM, and what it meant for the press coverage. Well, predictably, it appears to be rendering the same old same old.

Carol Rosenberg brings us the latest:

The website was unveiled last month to rehabilitate the reputation of the Guantanamo war court. So far it’s a hodgepodge of secrecy _ and still a work in progress, according to Defense Department officials, while clerks, lawyers and the intelligence community haggle behind the scenes over what the public can see.

It’s been more than a year in the making and the Pentagon has yet to reveal its cost. Every screen bears the slogan “fairness, transparency, justice.”

But a review of the content has found that it pointedly leaves out some of the key controversies that have bedeviled the war crimes trials, from allegations of torture to a comparison of the Seminole Indian tribe to al Qaida.

Disappointing, to say the least, but par for the course for the Gitmo experience. And, let’s be clear, it is not that they just haven’t had time to “work the kinks out” as this project has been underway for well over a year. And there is fantastic experience to draw from in the way of the Federal Court system’s PACER system. There are simply not that many detainees in total, much less defendants, to be entered into the system. The still dysfunctional and unusable system is the result of indifference, if not outright intent. As there will be no trials until next year at the earliest, maybe the situation can be remedied in time; but that will require the actual intent to do so. And that seems in short supply.

What I suspected would be the case has now been confirmed, namely that the “broadcast” of the commission trials will be a restricted joke. Again from Carol and the Miami Herald:

Pohl, the chief military commissions judge, assigned himself to the case, according to Defense Department sources, and chose the late October date to give the government time to finish a close-circuit feed site at Fort Meade, Md., outside Washington, D.C.

Up to 100 reporters could watch the Guantánamo arraignment on a 40-second delay under the new Fort Meade hook-up being inaugurated with the Cole trial to ease demand on a crude media tent city at the remote Navy base in southeast Cuba, which can accommodate 60 journalists.

There also will reportedly be a feed for a select few of the victims’ families. But zilch for the broader press, and nothing for the public. Just as with the suggested benefits and propriety of transparency on the targeting of American citizens for assassination, it would place the United States on a higher moral plane and demonstrate resolve and ethics to demonstrate to its citizens, and those of the world, that it is indeed providing a fair and just trial process for the detainees.

Necessary steps can easily enough shield that which must be, there is no reason not to show what this country stands for. Open and public justice is the best justice. Unless, that is, what we really stand for is not particularly just.

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7 Responses to GITMO: The Same Old New Opaque Transparency

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz Oops: After Threatening Hacker With 440 Years, Prosecutors Settle for a Misdemeanor | WIRED http://t.co/BjOkNbK7p5
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bmaz @PatrickCToomey @csoghoian @WSJ @dannyyadron Jeebus, the All Writs Act?? Owsley is right though, notable that magistrate issued opinion.
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bmaz RT @DavidBerthold: Huge storm rages through Brisbane flooding shopping centres and pushing sharks into the CBD. #brisbanestorm #bnestorm ht…
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bmaz @arcsine @mirriam71 @LisaBloom From another prosecution? No.
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bmaz I love that Richard Sherman is sitting there eating Madden turkey on Harbaugh's logo. Couldn't happen to a bigger turkey than Harbaugh.
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bmaz @arcsine @mirriam71 @LisaBloom Since he voluntarily appeared, yes. Even if he later refused, his GJ testimony likely admissible against him.
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bmaz RT @LisaBloom: Wilson at station right after shooting says he told cops he'd been punched in the face. Their response: "where?" Bc they cdn…
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bmaz .@mirriam71 @LisaBloom No, and neither Wilson nor any other defendant owes that. But Bob McCulloch sure does. He and Nixon owe many answers.
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emptywheel RT @EFF: We're thankful to Senator @MarkUdall, for years of defending digital rights on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. We'll …
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emptywheel Confession: reading abt struggles of shitty airports makes me thankful. http://t.co/4quSITgumg Next up? All NYC airports!
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emptywheel @NC_Prime Brady and I pretty much coincided (if that can happen w/backup) tho only year I got tx was 99. @attackerman
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emptywheel @attackerman It's okay. I come from an extended family of 5 PSU grads and 1 PSU prof, but do okay.
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