OCA

Did CIA OCA Censor Another Court Transmission?

Back on January 28, the proceedings of the military commission attempting to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed and co-conspirators were interrupted when an unknown entity outside the courtroom muted the audio feed carried out of the courtroom. The presiding judge was enraged and has held hearings to get to the bottom of the event. As Carol Rosenberg reported on January 31:

“This is the last time that will happen,” the judge said Thursday. “No third party can unilaterally cut off the broadcast.”

/snip/

Pohl never once mentioned the CIA, the agency that controls information about what happened to alleged mastermind Mohammed, who agents waterboarded 183 times, and his four co-defendants. Instead, he referred to the “OCA” — short for the original classification authority — a generic term for any agency of the U.S. government that stamped a document or declared a program Top Secret.

“This is the last time that an OCA or any third party will be permitted to unilaterally decide if the broadcast should be suspended. The OCA, any OCA does not work for the commission and therefore has no independent decision-making authority on how these proceedings are to be conducted.”

Remarkably, the OCA censoring scandal has now spread to include the presence of hidden microphones the defense contends may have been used to eavesdrop on privileged attorney-client conversations, but I want to concentrate here on a remarkable coincidence where a second terrorism trial also was disrupted by a sudden, unexplained interruption in a transmission of the proceedings.

The current case centers on the nearly 80 year old, frail imam of South Florida’s oldest mosque, Hafiz Khan. He and a number of co-conspirators are accused of funneling money to the Pakistan Taliban:

One of Mr. Khan’s sons, Izhar Khan, 24, the imam of a mosque in Margate, Fla., sat near his father in the jury box. Both men appeared in court for the first time since their federal indictment was unsealed late last week. Neither man entered a plea.The indictment says the defendants conspired to provide material support to a conspiracy to murder, maim and kidnap people overseas, including planning to funnel at least $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban.

The Pakistani Taliban, which the State Department has named a terrorist organization, took responsibility for a suicide attack in Pakistan on Friday that killed more than 80 cadets from a government paramilitary force.

Significant portions of the government’s case rest on recordings of intercepted phone calls:

According to the indictment, a tape-recorded phone conversation has Mr. Khan calling for an attack on the Pakistani Assembly similar to a suicide bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Sept. 20, 2008.

Prosecutors say that in another phone conversation, Mr. Khan “declared his wish that God kill 50,000” American soldiers.

Khan’s defense team wanted testimony from a number of people in Pakistan, but they will not come to the US to testify in the Miami trail.  Several motions were submitted by the defense and the government on just how testimony could be obtained from these witnesses. The defense wanted to depose the witnesses in Pakistan via videoconferencing, but the government fought that request. The government embarrassed itself a few times in these filings, especially when it argued that the defense had not indicated what language would be used for the depositions and so the government might not have the proper translators present. Further, the government tried to argue that the defense had not adequately shown why the witnesses did not want to come to the US.

In ruling on these many motions (pdf), the judge cut through the government’s arguments very cleanly, noting that the government had recorded these very witnesses and cited them in its indictment, so the language they speak is known to the government. Further, the witnesses are co-conspirators in the indictment and so they fear arrest if they come to the US: Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel Psychology (this time NOT peer reviewed) does work of oppression again, this time on cop shootings. http://t.co/buC95AiAzq
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emptywheel Solving this is easy. Just declare Ice Cream Month. https://t.co/o71v4Q34rm
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emptywheel @TeresaKopec Just as related example: Under Hillary State had no IG. Terrible problem. Deserves discussion.
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emptywheel @TeresaKopec What Hillary did has real accountability problems. That needs to be fair to talk about. So does State's practices under her.
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emptywheel @TeresaKopec OK. So maybe your arg should be "Front page journos=Hillary hate but I haven't read all coverage."
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emptywheel @TeresaKopec Again, you can argue SOME reporters are engaging in Hillary hating. But some are not. Ignoring reasons why is letting her off.
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emptywheel @TeresaKopec Josh Gerstein. Most Hill reporters. These people have spent years fighting State. Hillary doesn't now get a free pass.
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emptywheel @TeresaKopec NYT is ONE example of Hillary hatred. But there are many many many journos who are writing fr having had to do business w/State
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emptywheel @TeresaKopec I think it's way overclassified, but it is very serious issue that less powerful people go to prison for bringing home less.
20mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @TeresaKopec Because that is what it would be if journos tried to get it via normal oversight.
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emptywheel @TeresaKopec Some of this is legitimately Hillary hate, some of it is deserved response for State's practices under Hillary.
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emptywheel @TeresaKopec Again, I just pointed out to your that Hilary's OWN State dept insisted such things were highly classified.
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August 2015
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