ACLU appeals order allowing censorship of torture testimony during Guantanamo military commission

By End the Lie

(Image credit: JTF Guantanamo photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

(Image credit: JTF Guantanamo photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Military Commissions Review appealing a Guantánamo military judge’s order allowing the government to censor any testimony that touches on the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody.

The trial at issue here has been plagued by problems including the accusations of intentional censorship when the audio feed was cut and accusations from the defense alleging that the U.S. government is spying on them and violating attorney-client confidentiality.

The ACLU filed the petition (PDF) asserting the public’s First Amendment right to open trials which they claim has been violated by the protective order issued by Military Judge Col. James Pohl in December.

While the petition was filed late February 21, 2013, it was only made public this afternoon “after undergoing a security review by the government,” according to the ACLU’s press release.

Pohl’s order contains provisions that allow for the categorical censorship of any testimony from the defendants that touches on their personal experiences and memories of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” rendition and detention by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on the grounds that it was classified.

Pohl’s order also legitimized the continued use of a 40-second delay on the audio feed of the proceedings, further allowing for censorship of the trial.

“The judge’s decision to keep testimony about torture secret did not even mention the American public’s First Amendment right of access to the Guantánamo commissions, let alone apply the high standard that must be met before testimony is suppressed,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project.

“The government’s claim that it can classify and censor from the public a criminal defendant’s personal experience and memories of CIA-imposed torture is legally untenable and morally abhorrent,” Shamsi continued.

“Even if the government somehow had that Orwellian classification authority, copious details about the CIA’s torture and black-site detention program are already public knowledge, and the government has no legitimate reason to censor the defendants’ testimony about their own memories of it,” Shamsi said.

The government’s request last year to classify the testimony touching on torture and other experiences claimed that any statements made by the defendants about their “exposure” to the CIA detention and interrogation program can be withheld from the public because they are classified as “sources, methods and activities” of the U.S.

The ACLU has challenged other aspects of the government’s handling of this trial.

In May of last year, the ACLU filed a motion “asking the commission to deny the government’s request and to bar a delayed audio feed of the proceedings, or, in the alternative, promptly release an uncensored transcript.”

While a group of 14 major press organizations also filed a motion (PDF) supporting the media’s First Amendment right to access the proceedings of the commission.

That motion “was denied by the judge as well, and they have also challenged the protective order,” according to the ACLU.

The government must now respond to both cases by March 6.

Did I forget anything or miss any errors? Would you like to make me aware of a story or subject to cover? Or perhaps you want to bring your writing to a wider audience? Feel free to contact me at [email protected] with your concerns, tips, questions, original writings, insults or just about anything that may strike your fancy.

Please support our work and help us start to pay contributors by doing your shopping through our Amazon link or check out some must-have products at our store.

2 Responses to ACLU appeals order allowing censorship of torture testimony during Guantanamo military commission

  1. Razul February 25, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    Covering up torture testimony? why am I not surprised? This is a criminal government.

  2. InBetweenTheLines February 26, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    Would someone remind me why ‘we’ fought the Revolutionary War?

    They’re back!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Advertise on End the Lie

Would you like to have your business or service exposed to thousands of people every day here at End the Lie? We have a wide variety of options available all at unbeatable prices. At the same time you will be supporting a truth-oriented alternative news outlet as well as hardworking independent journalists across the United States and the world.

If you would like to know more please email us and please be sure to include the details of what you are advertising, what your budget is and what type of advertising format you are looking for, including size(s), length of advertising period and any other pertinent details. The more information you give us, the more accurate the quote will be. We might also be able to work out some unique advertising tailored to your needs so feel free to contact us with questions and ideas.

Note: our advertisers have absolutely no input in what we cover or how we cover it. If this is problematic, you might want to seek out another news outlet. Here at End the Lie we put the truth first and thus no sponsor will be able to control our content. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone and we will not advertise pornography, gambling, drugs, alcohol, tobacco or anything that might otherwise be illegal.