Federal Court Rules Media Has Right to Information About Gitmo Detainees
In another slap to the government’s attempts to conceal information about the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, a federal judge ruled today that the Justice Department cannot simply deem unclassified information “protected” and thereby keep it from public view.
Noting that it’s the role of the court — not the executive — to decide which unclassified information can be filed under seal, and that public access to detainee information “plays a significant positive role in the functioning” of habeas corpus proceedings, Judge Thomas Hogan of the federal district court in Washington ruled that the government must make publicly available the factual basis for holding each prisoner. For those facts the government still insists are too sensitive to produce, the government must file with the court under seal a document explaining why it wants to conceal each particular fact.
From Judge Hogan’s order:
The government’s motion attempts to usurp the Court’s discretion to seal judicial records. Moreover, the public has a limited First Amendment and common law right to access the unclassified factual returns. For each petitioner, the government must either publicly file a factual return or file under seal a marked copy of the unclassified factual return highlighting the specific information for which it seeks protected status.