CIA censors Guantánamo trials
Of course, we don’t know why, but quite often government agencies (including the CIA) classify and hide information simply because the information is embarrassing to the agency and sometimes because it reveals downright illegal activity (as in kidnapping innocent people and torturing them, or torturing imprisoned suspects to death).
I wonder at what point the US ceases to be a free nation. We have (I hope) a long way to go, but we have one presidential candidate who has already promised to ignore Constitutional rights (freedom of the press, the right to a trial, and so on) and the right to be protected against unreasonable search and seizures has long been a dead letter (cf. civil asset forfeiture, stop-and-frisk, SWAT raids (often on the wrong house) to serve warrants, and the like). And we are certainly now a surveillance nation with all our communications actively monitored by the NSA: big data being trolled by pattern-recognition algorithms looking for any deviation of what the NSA considers to be a “good citizen,” with information turned over to the FBI, DEA, TSA, and other agencies (with instructions that the source of the information cannot be revealed, even if it means not prosecuting criminal acts).
Update: In the paragraph above, I mentioned the NSA’s passive information-gathering—lurking and listening, as it were—but the NSA also has an active front in doing cyberwarfare (e.g., Stuxnet to sabotage Iran’s uranium purification centrifuges). Take a look at this article. /update
This is all well documented, but we continue to see new little hallmarks of an authoritarian society waiting to emerge, like shark fins showing above the water.
Mattathias Schwartz reports in The Intercept:
In January 2013, during the military trial of five men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks, a defense lawyer was discussing a motion relating to the CIA’s black-site program, when a mysterious entity cut the audio feed to the gallery. A red light began to glow and spin. Someone had triggered the courtroom’s censorship system.
The system was believed to be under the control of the judge, Col. James Pohl. In this case, it wasn’t.
“The 40-second delay was initiated, not by me,” Pohl said. He was referring to the delayed audio feed, which normally broadcasts to the press and other observers seated in the gallery. The gallery is cut off from the courtroom by three layers of soundproof Plexiglas. “I’m curious as to why … if some external body is turning the commission off under their own view of what things ought to be, with no reasonable explanation, then we are going to have a little meeting about who turns that light on or off.”
Later, Pohl said the censorship was the work of an “OCA,” short for “Original Classification Authority.” In the future, he said, no external body would be permitted to unilaterally censor what was happening in his courtroom.
Many have speculated that Pohl’s “OCA” is in fact the CIA. That speculation is now confirmed with the release of three new documents by The Intercept.The documents show the evolution of secret rules governing what is and is not allowed to be discussed before the military court at Guantánamo.
All three of the declassified documents are marked “Secret,” and were distributed to defense attorneys and Pentagon-employed courtroom-security officers. The documents clearly identify CIA as the OCA for torture-related information at the Guantánamo military commission proceedings.
Dean Boyd, who heads the CIA’s public affairs’ office, referred questions about the January 2013 censorship incident to the Pentagon. Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson, a Pentagon spokesperson, declined to comment. “I don’t have anything to offer you beyond what is written in [the court] transcript,” she said. . .