ACLU Motion Asserts Public’s Constitutional Right to Open Trials and Challenges Government’s Proposed Censorship Regime
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GUANTÁNAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba – Early next week, a military commission judge at Guantánamo Bay will hear oral argument on the American Civil Liberties Union’s challenge to censorship of torture testimony at the trial of the 9/11 defendants. This will be the ACLU’s first appearance arguing before the tribunal.
Based on the schedule released by the judge, the ACLU expects to be heard Monday or Tuesday. The hearing was originally scheduled for August, but was delayed by Hurricane Isaac.
In May, the ACLU filed a motion asking the commission to deny the government’s request to prevent the public from hearing any statements by the defendants about their torture and detention while in U.S. custody. On that basis, the motion asks the commission to bar a delayed audio feed of the proceedings, or, in the alternative, promptly release an uncensored transcript.
“The government’s claim that it can keep from the public the defendants’ testimony about their ‘thoughts and experiences’ of torture is legally untenable and morally abhorrent,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project and the attorney who will argue the motion Wednesday. “There is an ongoing public debate about the fairness and transparency of the Guantánamo military commissions, and if the government succeeds in imposing its desired censorship regime, the commissions will certainly not be seen as legitimate.”
The government contends that any statements by the defendants’ concerning their “exposure” to the CIA’s detention and interrogation program are classified as “sources, methods and activities” of the U.S. and can be withheld from the public. A group of 14 press organizations will also be arguing next week for the media’s right to access the commission's proceedings.
The ACLU’s motion is at:
The ACLU’s reply brief to the government is at:
You can read regular updates and analysis from the ACLU attorneys at Guantánamo at: