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I have attended a number of court proceedings recently--in civilian criminal court, a court-martial, and a military commission--where, frankly, I didn't know what the f*ck was going on, even as to my own client.  Today, the Washington Post reports that the audio and video feeds at the Guantanamo trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) mysteriously went out as the defense was presenting a motion.

This is not the only court proceeding shrouded in secrecy I've attended in the past two weeks. Trials are supposed to be public. Secret trials are a relic of the Star Chamber.

In the Bradley Manning court-martial, journalists and observers are largely in the dark about what's going on because so much of it takes place behind closed doors, and there are no transcripts of the part of the proceedings that are public. In September, more than 30 news outlets and media organizations filed an amicus in support of a request by the Center for Constitutional Rights to provide public access to motions, briefs, written rulings, and the docket.

Last Friday, in the sentencing of my client--CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou--he was sentenced based on a secret statement by the supposedly-undercover officer (widely-known to the Thomas Donahue Fletcher) whose name he confirmed to a reporter. I wrote abut the Kafkaesque nature of going to jail based on secret evidence, resurrected dropped charges, and new allegations never made until sentencing, here.

Then yesterday, during the Guantanamo military commission proceedings of alleged 9/11 mastermind KSM, the audio feed was suddenly smothered in white noise and the video feed of the courtroom was cut as the defense began discussing a delassified pre-trial motion.

Who controls what the public and reporters can see and hear at the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? Is there an invisible hand, unknown to even the military judge, that can switch off audio and video feeds?

David Nevin, the civilian defense attorney, was perplexed. So was Judge James Pohl, an Army colonel, also had no idea why Nevin was censored or by whom.

The culprit? The prosecution.

Joanna Baltes, a Justice Department lawyer working on the prosecution team, said she could explain what happened--but not in public.

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that "the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial." We apparently are no longer using that documents, but you cannot know the reason why.

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Comment Preferences

  •  "A minor mystery"??? What crap is this? (10+ / 0-)

    NOT your diary, the linked article.

    Thank you Jesselyn for reporting these thing to us.

    If there are no transcripts, then it's not public, period.

    As for this:

    Is there an invisible hand, unknown to even the military judge,
    Yep, its called the NSA. If I recall correctly, there is a 40 second delay for every "live" event now.  It gives their computers time to edit anything out they don't want us to see or hear.

    -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

    by gerrilea on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 06:03:54 AM PST

  •  twitter follow list (5+ / 0-)

    compiled by carol rosenberg is KSM hearing tweeters... fyi for anyone tying to follow this in real time on twitter.

  •  I blame the Steve Jackson affair... (5+ / 0-)

    For those not familiar.

    The government learned exactly the wrong lesson from it.  

    If you want to go after somebody without a warrant, an actual crime or anything resembling probably cause...

    Make sure the case isn't subject to public scrutiny.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 06:58:56 AM PST

  •  "Public" is fine, as long as the public is not (8+ / 0-)

    paying attention. In retrospect, I predict, THE major issue of the 21st Century is whether the people are actually going to be able to assert their power to govern.
    The Amendments to the Constitution are a delusion. First of all, they are addressed to the agents of government, outlining a series of prohibitions for which there are no enforcement powers, other than the people's ability to dismiss agents of government who fail to comply.
    Rights are worthless, unless they are respected. The federal government has bee successful, so far, with the argument that protecting the security of the nation (state) trumps the requirement to respect human rights. Besides, our human rights are, for the most part, only implied. The guarantee of property rights is more concrete, but that's because property can be quantified and identified and, at the time the Constitution was adopted, some natural persons were classified as property (slaves, wives, children). So, of course, property had to take precedence over humans rights and in this day and age that precedence has been transferred to the nation state, in whose name all sorts of skullduggery can be perpetrated.
    When (was it Franklin?) warned about security, he framed it as a choice. We the people of the 21st Century are not being asked. Instead, our "in loco parentis" representatives presume to act in our best interest to subordinate liberty to security. Why? Because that is where their importance lies. If we're to have government by the people, then a whole host of petty potentates will be reduced to servants. The ruling elites and their interpreters of the law can't have that.

    Mostly, it's been foreign nationals who have tested our commitment to human rights. I think that's interesting. Moat of them do not labor under the burden of having made the subjugation of human beings as slaves a matter of law.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:27:35 AM PST

  •  The people running those trials are traitors. (6+ / 0-)

    As far as I'm concerned, the Constitution is the founding document of the United States. The only powers people in government have are those that derive from the Constitution.

    When people in government, who have power granted by the Constitution, ignore its restraints, they commit treason. Because you either believe in it or you do not. It is indivisible.

    I just love that fact that when it comes to torture, the only person Obama prosecuted was the person who revealed it, not any of the people who ordered it or committed it. That sums up his character perfectly. There is nothing else I need or want to know about him.

  •  Could almost be any of us (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Garrett, ewmorr, mrkvica, gerrilea, aliasalias

    Americans probably think that this is OK because they've been told that in every one of these cases the person on trial has committed some crime against America.  Say what we want about the GWB administration, they were masters of propaganda and programmed the country to associate secrecy, abandoning civil rights and torture as acceptable in the name of "Homeland Security".
    This is the one area in which I can't give the Obama administration a pass.  This approach attacks the foundation on which this country was formed and yet it's considered almost fringe behavior to criticize it.
    I'm in my early 60's and to this day I can clearly recall the lessons from my Civics classes where we learned that secret trials such as these were the dividing line between between a dictatorship and the USA; we were protected by our government which had to observe our rights under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  
    As we have seen, it's not just the rights of people held at Guantanamo that have been stripped but also the rights of everyday Americans who tried to make our government live up to its obligations that have been denied.  As Americans we all want America to be a better place; we all have our ideas.  Do our ideas leave us open to prosecution?  Who knows and that's the problem.  Sadly I think Jesselyn will be writing diaries like this for a very long time.

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