US Releases Redacted Document Twice… With Different Redactions

from the [redacted]-if-we-[redacted]- dept

We’ve talked repeatedly about just how arbitrary the feds can be when it comes to redacting documents that they release. Despite the fact that they’re supposed to err on the side of transparency, they often go in the other direction. However, it can reach absolutely ridiculous levels, such as when they release the same document twice… with different redactions, revealing what they redacted. Even worse, they claim that the redactions were necessary to avoid having Al Qaeda be able to break prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay prison. The document was released both times as part of a case concerning detainees’ access to lawyers and (more specifically) the fact that the prison was conducting “genital searches” on prisoners if they wanted to meet with their lawyers.

Part of the case revolves around a declaration from June 3rd from Guantanamo prison warden Colonel John Bogdan explaining why the genital searches are necessary. However, the US government says that if that declaration is fully made public it “would better enable our enemies to attack the detention facilities at Guantanamo or undermine security at the facility.” Got that? The reason Bogdan’s declaration must be redacted is that not redacting key parts would allow Al Qaeda to attack the prison.

Given that, the US government released a redacted version to a reporter… apparently forgetting (or unaware) that they had already released a different redacted version a month ago in a related proceeding on the same case. Jason Leopold at Al Jazeera explores some of the differences:

Indeed, in the public version of Bogdan’s declaration submitted to the appeals court last month, the following passage is unredacted:

If the detainee would need to use the restroom in Camp 6, the meeting must end and the detainee would need to be moved by guard staff back to his cell.

The same passage, however, appears this way in the version of Bogdan’s declaration released on Friday:

If the detainees would need to use the restroom in Camp 6 [redacted].

Another passage in Bogdan’s declaration released on Friday says:

The frisk search that is conducted is to ensure there is nothing concealed between the clothing and the body.

However, the word “frisk” is redacted from the public version of Bogdan’s declaration submitted to the appeals court last month. The earlier version also says: “At no time is the detainee’s actual groin exposed to the staff,” whereas that passage is redacted in its entirety in the version of Bogdan’s declaration the government released on Friday.

A passage in the earlier version of Bogdan’s declaration says:

Additionally, for security reasons, internal moves could not be conducted in proximity to the attorney visits.

That sentence has been redacted in the version of Bogdan’s declaration released on Friday.

Another passage in the most recent version of Bogdan’s statement says:

During the brief movement to the camps, detainees are restrained in a manner consistent with standard procedures for military corrections.

However, the last part of that sentence, “in a manner consistent with standard procedures for military corrections”, was redacted in the public version of the declaration the government released last month.

Leopold also notes that the government claims that revealing the full document would also reveal “details about the physical layout of the detention facilities,” but points out this makes no sense at all, because you can view satellite images of the prison via Google maps, and tons of reporters have toured the prison and written about the layout.

No matter what, it seems abundantly clear that, yet again, the US is giving bogus reasons for its arbitrary redactions.

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Comments on “US Releases Redacted Document Twice… With Different Redactions”

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26 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The funny thing is that parts of the unredacted version makes them sound better. For example, redacting “frisk” leaves people to imagine that what has been redacted is “full body cavity”. Redacting “in a manner consistent with standard procedures for military corrections.” leaves people to imagine worse means of restraint.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, yeah, that’s why they want that redacted. They want the enemy to THINK they’re going to get a full cavity search, so they don’t even try to hide anything up there. But nobody actually wants to DO such a search. So with some clever redacting, you can leave an impression without actually lying.

Anonymous Coward says:

So the excuse ‘matters of national security’ can now be accurately and verifiably defined as “that which an individual gov’t functionary finds personally offensive, distasteful or liable to make someone in government look bad on any given day”. Got it.

Now that we have a working and contemporary definition for the term ‘national security’, can we go ahead and figure out what the hell the people in charge are actually up to??? They haven’t been minding the store for years.

I’d say we’re about to “be left holding the bag”, but we’ve been holding this bag all along.

And what the heck is the story with Syria anyway? I’m out of money to spend on international flights to watch the evening news.

Michael (profile) says:

The have stated clearly that releasing the redacted information would help Al Qaeda. Then, they released the redacted information. This leads me to one of two possible conclusions:

1) The DOJ needs to prosecute the group doing DOD redactions for “Aiding the Enemy”.
2) Al Qaeda is less of an enemy than the people Snowden released his information to (you know, the people of the United States of America)

Wally (profile) says:

And the most disturbingly funny point that makes me facepalm is....

“Even worse, they claim that the redactions were necessary to avoid having Al Qaeda be able to break prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay prison.”

No Mike Mandick, your statement isn’t the funny part, it’s their claim. Gitmo is way too heavily guarded for this to happen.

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