19 April 2024

A Curious Censorship Subject on the Guantánamo Court docket

When a decide disqualified a prisoner final month from being a part of the conspiracy case within the Sept. 11 assaults, the ruling was primarily based on one discovering: a psychological well being board’s prognosis that the person, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, had post-traumatic stress dysfunction.

But, when the Pentagon launched a transcript of a pretrial hearing this week the place the prognosis was mentioned, each point out of PTSD was blacked out.

It’s the most recent instance of a generally baffling pick-and-choose strategy by censors to the general public document that emerges from Guantánamo Bay.

On Sept. 19, reporters, households of victims of the Sept. 11 assaults and a legislation pupil had been all watching the proceedings from the spectators’ gallery at court docket when attorneys talked about “PTSD” or “post-traumatic stress dysfunction” 9 instances in two hours.

A court docket safety officer by no means pushed the mute button on the audio, which spectators hear after a 40-second delay. The delay is a characteristic of the Guantánamo court docket, not utilized in U.S. prison courts, to stop the disclosure of labeled data.

However when the Pentagon launched the “unofficial/unauthenticated transcript” on its navy commissions web site, solely a secondary prognosis endorsed by prosecutors survived the censor’s marker.

“He has a delusional dysfunction,” Clayton G. Trivett Jr., a lead prosecutor, stated. “It doesn’t make him incompetent. It doesn’t make him unable to cooperate intelligently in his protection.”

Redactions of the general public document are the work of a shadowy group referred to as the SCDRT, or the Safety Classification/Declassification Evaluation Group. For years, the Pentagon sometimes posted transcripts of public hearings inside 24 hours, generally on the identical day.

However it might probably take weeks or months for safety officers to redact transcripts when public testimony entails the internal workings of Guantánamo’s jail or the C.I.A.’s abroad secret jail community, often called the black websites, the place prisoners had been tortured.

There was no quick clarification for the redactions of PTSD.

David I. Bruck, Mr. bin al-Shibh’s lawyer, has stated that his shopper’s situation resulted from “years and years of solitary confinement” and different types of torture within the black websites.

As a result of the decide eliminated Mr. bin al-Shibh from the case, 4 males now face a joint prosecution. The lead defendant is Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who’s accused of being the mastermind behind the assaults that killed almost 3,000 folks on Sept. 11, 2001.

In court docket on Friday, Gary D. Sowards, a lawyer for Mr. Mohammed, stated the unseen censors had been utilizing redactions “for public relations and tactical consideration, not for nationwide safety.”

“The C.I.A. tortured folks to the psychological incapacity to face trial,” he stated.

The prosecution didn’t reply.

However Col. Matthew N. McCall, the decide, replied that he didn’t attain that conclusion when he dominated that Mr. bin al-Shibh was mentally unfit and eliminated him from the case. The decide stated he had discovered no have to hyperlink any of the prisoner’s diagnoses to the C.I.A. program.

Colonel McCall agreed that some redactions “made little or no sense” as a result of the knowledge that was blacked out drew no nationwide safety objections on the time it was spoken.

“I’ll see what I can put out to see that these sort of redactions aren’t being made,” he stated, noting that the court docket transcripts are dealt with by “a distinct entity.”