Obama Administration Declares All Statements by 9/11 Accused “Presumptively Classified”
Friday, July 20, 2012
All statements made by the five Guantánamo prisoners accused of plotting the September 11, 2001, attacks have been classified by the Obama administration, prompting legal challenges from civil libertarians and news organizations.
The order, made in April at the beginning of the military trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others, applies to anything they have said, either in court or in private with their attorneys.
According to the order, “Because the Accused were detained and interrogated in the CIA program, they were exposed to classified sources, methods, and activities. Due to their exposure to classified information, the Accused are in a position to reveal this information publicly through their statements. Consequently, any and all statements by the Accused are presumptively classified until a classification review can be completed.”
In other words, if the statements are not classified, the Obama administration claims, the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation efforts might be revealed.
“Of course, much information about the programs—including torture of detainees—has long been public,” writes Cora Currier of ProPublica. “The CIA’s so-called black-site prisons were acknowledged nearly six years ago by then-President Bush. More details about the program were released by President Obama in 2009.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the defendants’ lawyers, and media organizations have challenged aspects of the order. The matter may be reviewed by a military commission judge next month.
In a separate development, the military tribunal considering the case of alleged USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri ruled that the defendant would not be allowed to be present at a pre-trial hearing because the information being discussed was classified.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Classified in Gitmo Trials: Detainees’ Every Word (by Cora Currier, ProPublica)
Closed USS Cole Hearing Amid Protests from Defense (by Chantal Valery, Agence France-Presse)
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