War court Web site leaves out key details

Oct. 6, 2011 at 11:27 AM
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MIAMI, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- A new Pentagon war court Web site excludes many key controversies, documents and details on Guantanamo Bay cases, The Miami Herald reports.

The Web site, under development more than a year, came after attorneys and executives for McClatchy Newspapers and other news organizations protested secrecy and ad-hoc rule-making at the military trials, the Herald said.

Every screen on the site says "Fairness, Transparency, Justice," but it doesn't include controversies including allegations of torture, documents that had been released to the media a year ago and unclassified documents, the Herald reported.

The clerk of the court, where terrorism suspects are tried, has yet to develop a standard for what should be made public, and the court borrows from both military and civilian justice systems, the Herald said.

And a new regulation -- still undisclosed -- allows the war court clerk three weeks to consult with intelligence agencies on what to make public, Pentagon sources told the Herald.

As a result, motions filed days before hearings could be argued before the public sees them.

A document describing torture was excluded because it was deemed "internal correspondence," a Pentagon spokesman said.

A legal resources guide to significant U.S. Supreme Court opinions leaves out the 2008 case Boumediene vs. Bush, which granted Guantanamo prisoners civilian court review of their detention. The case is often cited by defense lawyers, while prosecutors say it doesn't apply at the base -- an argument the high court rejected.

The Pentagon says about 85 percent of the military documents that are to be posted are on the site.

Cully Stimson, a former assistant defense secretary who advised President George W. Bush on detainee matters, said the Web site was "not perfect" and still incomplete. But in a blog on the conservative Heritage Foundation's Web site, he called it "long overdue" and a "monumental improvement over the status quo."

CNN reported the site will soon enable journalists to watch video of Guantanamo trials from Fort Meade, Md., near Washington, instead of traveling to the base.

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