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"Government Secrecy Is the Handmaiden of Government Abuse"

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February 6, 2008

On her final day on this trip to Guantánamo, Hina writes in Daily Kos about the secret and classified evidence that the government ostensibly withholds from the defense for “national security” purposes. Specifically, she writes about a secret document that was accidentally leaked to the press and human rights observers yesterday, which showed that Omar Khadr was not the only person who could have thrown the grenade that killed a U.S. soldier. So in this case, a cover-up was necessary for the government to rationalize its charges against Khadr:

The released document also calls into question the bases for two of the other charges against Khadr, for conspiracy and material support for terrorism. According to the prosecution, among the underlying acts Khadr allegedly engaged in as a joint enterprise was using small arms fire to kill two Afghan militia members accompanying U.S. forces. In the final charge sheet, the Convening Authority (the OMC official responsible for convening the commissions and approving the charges brought by the prosecution) crossed out the allegation that “other suspected al Qaeda members” could have been responsible, as you can see here, in the last three pages of the document. This would leave Khadr solely responsible for the alleged deaths. The government may have other evidence to back up its claims, but based on the witness statement in the released document, there was, in fact, at least one man and possibly two other men who could have killed the Afghans.

For the last three years, public opinion, based on government disclosure, about Omar Khadr’s guilt for his alleged crimes has been decidedly one-sided. Now, based on the mistakenly released document, it appears the government may not have told the full story; we’re left to wonder what else we don’t know.

Secrecy has been a constant theme with the Bush administration. From the NSA wiretapping program to outing CIA agents to keeping its unlawful extraordinary rendition program from judicial scrutiny, the administration uses secrecy as a tool for government abuse and protecting the American people.

Protecting them from the truth, that is.

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