Military Court Holds Session so Secret Defendant Can’t Attend

Friday, June 28, 2013
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri

The U.S. military commission trials at Guantánamo recently held a pretrial hearing for the man accused of masterminding the October 12, 2000, bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen. What made this legal event noteworthy was the fact that the defendant wasn’t even allowed to attend because prosecutors insisted the information being revealed was so secret that the hearing had to be completely closed.


After concluding the hearing, the military revealed only one thing to the media: that it lasted 78 minutes.


Army Colonel James Pohl, the presiding judge, agreed to close the session because Pentagon prosecutors demonstrated a “compelling governmental interest that public disclosure could result in grave damage to national security,” and that disclosure of material at the hearing “could reasonably be expected to damage national security, including intelligence sources and methods,” according to the Miami Herald.


Brigadier General Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor, said the hearing was the first closed session under the 2009 Military Commission Act, which President Barack Obama supported to reform the military tribunals that began under President George W. Bush.


Rick Kammen, the civilian lawyer representing the defendant, Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, objected to the closure, claiming it violated the Military Commissions Act, as well as numerous treaties, Nashiri’s right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment and due process and “whatever 5th, 6th and 8th amendment rights he may have.”


The commission did release a transcript of the hearing, but it was so heavily redacted that it is difficult to glean any information from it.


ProPublica’s Cora Currier reported that parts of the transcript reveal “lengthy discussion of the CIA’s secret prison program, in which Nashiri was held for four years and subjected to waterboarding and mock executions.”


A Saudi millionaire, Nashiri has been in U.S. custody for 11 years.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Blacked Out: Reading Between the Lines as Gitmo Lawyers Talk Torture (by Cora Currier, ProPublica)

Guantánamo Judge Orders First Closed Session of Obama War Court (by Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald)

Al Nashiri II (TRANS14June2013 ClosedSession) (ProPublica)

Military Judge Orders Guantánamo Prisoners not to Talk in Court about being Tortured (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Obama Administration Declares All Statements by 9/11 Accused “Presumptively Classified” (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Pentagon Wants Military Tribunal to Hide that Defendant Will Not be Freed if Found Innocent (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


yarply 9 years ago
Nat security, always the excuse of tyrants.

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