What was that Barack Obama said about being a post-partisan president and about conducting the most transparent administration in history? From the Judicial Watch blog Corruption Chronicles comes this announcement in re the terrorist hearings at Guantanamo Bay:
In a startling about-face, the Obama administration is restricting exclusive access to Military Commission hearings in Guantanamo Bay to five leftist human rights groups that openly advocate for the terrorist defendants.
Since 2008 Judicial Watch, the only right-of-center organization to regularly monitor Gitmo proceedings, has sent representatives to Cuba 12 times. JW was present for the 2008 arraignment of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the 2011 arraignment of USS Cole bomber Bad al-Rahim al-Nassir and a number of KSM motion hearings in 2012 and 2013.
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Under the new policy only five Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), selected by the Pentagon, will be guaranteed a seat at the commission hearings. The list reads like a who’s who of bleeding heart liberal groups. It includes Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American Bar Association.
But at least the administration has good reason for cutting off access to organizations that don’t share its biases, right? Not exactly. A two-sentence memo from the Office of the Secretary of Defense reads simply:
Effective today, the Office of Military Commissions will use a selection policy for organizations sending individuals down to GTMO to view commissions hearings. This policy will cover all commissions proceedings beginning with the hearings in September.
JW appealed the decision but the Pentagon is not backing down. Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said in a letter to the DOD official in charge of the Military Commissions:
These groups represent a narrow, extreme ideological view on terrorist detainee issues. As you may well know, in some instances, persons affiliated with the five NGOs have served as legal counsel or political advocates for the terrorist detainees held at GTMO.
Your proposed system could have the effect of freezing out any alternative voices from the NGO community, specifically those voices that have not served as legal and political advocates for terrorist detainees.
The Military Commission chief of staff, Michael Quinn, explained in a response that the five NGOs “were selected due to their ability to reach an international audience, their experience with international human rights in criminal trials and their stated mission to advance human rights through advocacy and respect for the law.”