Ever since Barack Obama was elected on a pledge to increase transparency in government, then had his lawyers reform the military commissions, the term has become nearly a mantra at Guantánamo. The prison camps that hold 166 captives, all but nine without conviction or charge, already had adopted the motto of safe, humane, legal, transparent detention.
Then the Defense Department spent nearly $500,000 to construct a war court website decorated with Fairness, Transparency, Justice on each and every page that posts documents after the intelligence agencies get up to 15 days to scrub them. Whole filings are secret, notably one by the prosecution in both death-penalty cases that seeks a secret finding from the judge that even the defense lawyers have not seen.
During a recent talk, the chief prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, said that openness is an absolutely critical value at the Guantánamo court. It provides sun, disinfectant, allows people to feel comfortable that corruption is not happening in their processes, he told a class at the University of Miami Law School in November.
But this is also about finding the truth, seeking accountability and also about protecting the public interest, which isnt always in the advertising of every piece of information, Martins said. In the areas of national security, in the areas of privacy information, not all of that should be trotted out in front of everybody. Thats the basic rationale.
So, with the blessing of the judge, the names of foreign nations where the CIA held captives are redacted blacked out when motions about Nashiris overseas capture and treatment are made public. Declassified investigative reports found abuse. But the prosecutor, Martins, has pledged that no involuntary confessions would be used against a war court accused.
In the case of Loftus, defense lawyers want to have someone from their side trained to approach victims.
If theres a conviction, victims typically advise the military jury on whether they want the criminal executed. If theres a proposal for a plea agreement, victims may want to hear something from the accused, and defense lawyers can serve as go-between.
As the governments witness/victim advocate, Loftus is not a neutral person, said attorney Rick Kammen, Nashiris civilian death penalty defense lawyer. There may be a whole host of survivors or victims who for varying reasons arent as engaged or may be engaged differently. We need to reach out.
Asked why the government covered up Loftus name in his motion to call her as a witness, he replied: I cant possibly imagine.
Neither can Nashiris Pentagon defender, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Reyes, who has taken to referring to the nations that might have information about his clients treatment as Redact-istan. Each and every time a foreign country appears in their filings, the name is redacted, blacked out as a national security secret.
This whole Redact-istan, Redact-igate issue does show disparate treatment, says Reyes, who never once in a lengthy interview spoke Loftus name. Just in case.
Carol Rosenberg has covered the war court and prison camps since their inception and was one of the four reporters banned for life for a period of time in 2010.