07 January, 2009
Anyone out there surprised about this move?
Public Could Be Prevented From Hearing 9/11 Trials
The military judge overseeing proceedings against five of the men accused of planning the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks signed an order designed to protect classified information that is so broad it could prevent public scrutiny of the most important trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to lawyers and human rights groups.
The protective order, which was signed on Dec. 18 by Judge Stephen R. Henley, an Army colonel, not only protects documents and information that have been classified by intelligence agencies, it also presumptively classifies any information "referring" to a host of agencies, including the CIA, the FBI and the State Department. The order also allows the court in certain circumstances to classify information already in the public domain and presumptively classifies "any statements made by the accused."
Three of the accused, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, are defending themselves and, under the order, anything they say during the course of the trial could be shielded from the public.
"These rules turn the presumption of openness on its head, making what is perhaps the most important trial in American history presumptively closed to the public and the press," said Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch. "If these rules applied in all cases, there would be no such thing as an open trial in America."
Read more at link above.