Lawyers For Guantanamo Detainees Not Allowed To Look At Important Leaked Evidence
from the this-is-stupid dept
On Monday, hours after WikiLeaks, The New York Times and other news organizations began publishing the documents online, the Justice Department informed Guantanamo defense lawyers that the documents remained legally classified even after they were made public.The NY Times, rightly, calls this "absurdist." I'd call it out right stupid. It's head-in-the-sandism. If the information is public, live with it. It's public. Pretending that public information is not public doesn't help anyone. It just makes it look like the government is in denial and not dealing with reality. Frankly, I'd much prefer a government that can deal with reality to one that tells everyone to cover their eyes and ears and pretend reality doesn't exist.
Because the lawyers have security clearances, they are obligated to treat the readily available files "in accordance with all relevant security precautions and safeguards" -- handling them, for example, only in secure government facilities, said the notice from the department's Court Security Office.
Of course, this is not the first time we've seen this. With just Wikileaks, we saw it a few months ago when parts of the federal government barred employees from looking at the site and its leaks, using the identical rationale. So, despite the fact that everyone else in the world could easily see those documents, the ones who it might impact the most have to pretend that the documents are not actually public.
It's government playing make believe.
It's also not unlike the ridiculous hoops the government made lawyers go through in the al-Haramain case, in which the government accidentally leaked a document proving that it had wiretapped without a warrant. And despite the fact that the document had been leaked, it was required that lawyers for al-Haramain pretend the documents were still secret, leading to an absolutely insane process by which the lawyers had to destroy all of the copies they had of this info, and could only refer to it obliquely from memory, with a Justice Department official watching over them, with the ability to force them to stop talking about certain aspects.
None of this makes any sense. Just like we have "security theater," this appears to be "classification theater." These documents are not classified any more. Period. Pretending they are is a charade that the government is putting on which everyone knows is a lie. Isn't it time we had our government stop pretending and start dealing with reality?