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ABA Joins Filing Against Gitmo Rescinding Order

•  Bar Associations     updated  2009/01/20 09:18


The American Bar Association has joined with three other national organizations that have been officially designated since 2004 as trial observers for Military Commission trials at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in filing an amicus curiae brief seeking to rescind a protective order the groups say is overbroad and would unjustifiably prevent public scrutiny of the most important and highly‑anticipated trial at Guantanamo Bay.  Although the association ordinarily does not cosign amicus briefs or file them at the trial level, it is doing so in the case of alleged 9/11 conspirators, United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, et al, to highlight the critically important First Amendment guarantee of public access to U.S. legal proceedings.  The other cosigners are the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch.  The organizations argue that the protective order is overbroad and “diminishes the transparency and fairness of the proceedings,” and that the Constitution of the United States, the Military Commissions Act adopted by Congress and the Manual for Military Commissions all guarantee an express public right of access to the trials, which “can be overcome only upon specific judicial determination that information must be withheld for reasons of national security or personal safety.” 

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