Meanwhile, at Gitmo

Four reporters banned for reporting an interrogator’s name:

Two weeks’ worth of proceedings in the pre-trial hearing of Omar Khadr found an unexpected meta-conclusion this afternoon as the public affairs shop in the Office of the Secretary of Defense banned four reporters from returning to Guantanamo Bay. Their offense: reporting the name of a witness whose identity is under a protective order.

The four journalists are Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star, Steven Edwards of Canwest, Paul Koring of the Globe & Mail and Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald. They are not being thrown off the base, but, as of now, they are barred from returning.

***

Those four reporters comprise much of the institutional knowledge of Guantanamo Bay and the military commissions, as their colleagues widely acknowledge. Shephard has written the most comprehensive account to date of Omar Khadr’s life and experiences in detention at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay, in both her Star reporting and her book Guantanamo’s Child. Rosenberg is the single most diligent, consistent and experienced Guantanamo Bay reporter in the world, having carved out the Guantanamo beat steadily almost since the detention facility here opened in 2002 and traveled here more frequently than any other journalist. (I personally heard complaints about her from public affairs officers here five years ago — and those complaints amounted to whining about how dogged an investigator she was.) Koring and Edwards have also been invaluable resources about Khadr and Guantanamo to their colleagues these past two weeks.

I guess that is one way to make sure no one knows what the hell the government is doing down there- get rid of all the experts.

I wonder if the Politico and the stenographers in the Beltway and WH press corps will stage a protest (for once, justified) about this the way they did about not having internet access on Air Force One or rally around these actual journalists the way they did about their “sister organization” Fox News.

Ha! I kid. Drudge doesn’t give a shit about this and there are no anonymous rumors from within the WH to sex the piece up, so the stenographers won’t even notice.

*** Update ***

And just who is interrogator #1? A real saint:

Testifying remotely, a young man known to us as “Interrogator #1″ first said he never threatened a 15-year-old Omar Khadr with rape in the Bagram detention facility in Afghanistan in 2002. Then he elaborated.

“I told him a fictitious story we had invented when we were there,” Interrogator #1 said. It was something “three or four” interrogators at Bagram came up with after learning that Afghans were “terrified of getting raped and general homosexuality, things of that nature.” The story went like this:

Interrogator #1 would tell the detainee, “I know you’re lying about something.” And so, for an instruction about the consequences of lying, Khadr learned that lying “not so seriously” wouldn’t land him in a place like “Cuba” — meaning, presumably, Guantanamo Bay — but in an American prison instead. And this one time, a “poor little 20-year-old kid” sent from Afghanistan ended up in an American prison for lying to an American. “A bunch of big black guys and big Nazis noticed the little Afghan didn’t speak their language, and prayed five times a day — he’s Muslim,” Interrogator #1 said. Although the fictitious inmates were criminals, “they’re still patriotic,” and the guards “can’t be everywhere at once.”

“So this one unfortunate time, he’s in the shower by himself, and these four big black guys show up — and it’s terrible something would happen — but they caught him in the shower and raped him. And it’s terrible that these things happen, the kid got hurt and ended up dying,” Interrogator #1 said. “It’s all a fictitious story.”

***

Interrogator #1 was later court-martialed and served time for detainee abuse.

So they have been banned for reporting the name of a court-martialed soldier who abused detainees and threatened teen-age detainees with rape.

They hate us for our freedoms, also.






50 replies
  1. 1
    sherifffruitfly says:

    (OT) Number of the day: 26

    The percent of white Arizonans who oppose their state’s Jim Crow immigration law.

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyo.....ration-law

  2. 2
    AhabTRuler says:

    Is it too late to start drinking?
    I really wish to have been drunk for the past twenty years.

  3. 3
    Zifnab says:

    @sherifffruitfly: That’s impressive. Black people hate the law MORE than Hispanic people. Probably because so many Hispanics are new here, but the black people know exactly how the system works.

  4. 4
    Guster says:

    Fucking Hamsher.

  5. 5
    Cacti says:

    @sherifffruitfly:

    Proud to be a 26 percenter.

  6. 6
    daverave says:

    I particular like this:

    Identifying information about that interrogator was entered into the record of the hearing during open court testimony by both the prosecution and the defense. Ironically, the letter confirmed that witness’s identity.

    While the judge in the case, Col. Patrick Parrish, issued an admonition yesterday for reporters to respect the anonymity of the classified witnesses, he did not rule that any reporter here had violated the protected order. The decision to block the four reporters from returning to Guantanamo Bay is a matter of policy from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. And those four are not the only ones within the press corps here to have reported Interrogator #1’s name.

    Kafkaesque…

  7. 7
    cat48 says:

    I’m torn about this and any leak dealing with National Security. Some things just shouldn’t be released. I’d have to know exactly what the security risk would be by releasing his name. Just the facts I would like; not an emotional tirade from someone.

    i.e.: anyone who takes “Classified; TOP SECRET” files & leaks I have a real problem with; especially if it is to affect policy. The NYT just leaked info from a memo on Iran a couple wks ago & that was only to affect policy & to embarrass the prez.

    The last person Glenn calls a “whistleblower” who is being prosecuted by Justice is not being prosecuted for “leaking.” Like Scooter, when caught he deliberately lied to the FBI and attempted to destroy and shred all the “Top Secret” documents which they found afterwards. He is being prosecuted for Obstruction.

    Worked about a yr with Classified documents and I just think they should stay that way if they are about current policy. I certainly expected to be punished if I abused the documents.

  8. 8
    frankdawg says:

    AH-M PROUD TO BE AN AH-MURICAN WHERE AT LEAST AH KNOW AH-M FREE.

    Sing louder ! LOUDER!!

  9. 9
    Mar says:

    I think that it’s perfectly justifiable to punish people who break the law.

    If the law says that a witness’ name should be under protective order, that name should not be mentioned in the press. ’nuff said. Now, if they particularly picked on these reporters who broke the law b/c they’re good at reporting, and they didn’t pick on other reporters who broke the law b/c they’re bad at reporting, I’d have beef with it. But as I read this story, that’s not the case.

    So what if the person who they snitched on was a bad guy? Protective orders exist for a reason. Seriously, break the law, get punished.

  10. 10
    cat48 says:

    In fact, I’m old and I hate all this “Transperancy” shit. People only want it to use it for political attacks. I cant believe that Froomkin is whining because he can’t attend every single meeting that the Debt Commission is starting to have; even if there are only 2 attending. I would assume they would like some space to get to know each other and get basic ideas from each other before making final decisions and presenting them in a Hearing. Rahm’s right about these folks. His words go thru my mind when I read anything whining about transperancy.

  11. 11
    AhabTRuler says:

    I’m torn about this and any leak dealing with National Security.

    Don’t be. The National Security Act of 1947 was one of the worst things to happen to this country.

  12. 12

    A bunch of big black guys and big Nazis … and these four big black guys show up — and it’s terrible something would happen — but they caught him in the shower and raped him.

    Jesus Christ, it sounds like this asshole was sharing a fantasy.

    And why only the black guys as rapists? I guess neither group would want sloppy seconds from the other.

    Yes, I know I’m going to hell, it’s just so fucking stupid I can’t get properly annoyed.

  13. 13

    The outrageous element of all this, is why in gawds name would you treat a 15 year old like a hardened terrorist in the first place? I mean what level did he operate in AQ to get locked away in first Bagram and then flown hooded and strapped to Gitmo and interrogated (tortured) (at least psychologically) as an adult? What could a kid this age tell you about the inner workings of the Jihadi community that could be believed from a fucking 15 year old? Assuming he knew something, which is highly unlikely imo. It was and is a sick enterprise and the whole thing makes me once again be ashamed to be an American.

    As far as releasing classified info, I oppose that generally, and those who do it, even if for something they think is noble, then they have to pay the piper if caught. And the GI that was prosecuted for detainee abuse has apparently been punished for his crimes, and now likely getting a death Fatwa from murderous Muslim clerics is not something deserved.

    But it sounds like the Pentagon is trumping it up to justify muzzling knowledgeable critics, and that is just as unjust. This whole business spawned by the neocons is like a neverending oil leak poisoning the American soul. And it will likely be awhile before it gets capped. Fuck Bush and his Gangsters a thousand times with a rusty rabid pitchfork.

  14. 14
    AhabTRuler says:

    Fuck Bush and his Gangsters a thousand times with a rusty rabid pitchfork.

    You make it sound like the abuse of the information classification or the persecution of people that release info that is embarrassing to the government is a new thing.

    The outrageous element of all this, is why in gawds name would you treat a 15 year old like a hardened terrorist in the first place?

    America crossed that Rubicon a long time ago, what with the number of minors in adult prisons.

  15. 15
    Ella in NM says:

    Will me make it to tomorrow, folks?

  16. 16
    Ella in NM says:

    Is it my imagination, or is the self-destruction process in this country suddenly speeding up?

  17. 17

    @AhabTRuler:

    You make it sound like the abuse of the information classification or the persecution of people that release info that is embarrassing to the government is a new thing.

    I have no idea what this means as to how it relates to my comment.

  18. 18
    Maude says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:
    Bush and all of the thugs were barbarians.
    I am unable to come up with any other explanation.

  19. 19

    @AhabTRuler:

    America crossed that Rubicon a long time ago, what with the number of minors in adult prisons.

    I am well aware of that ahab, but we have only recently been picking children up in foreign countries and locking them up because they might know something about terrorists. And keeping them locked up indefinitely while interrogating them by torture.

  20. 20
    kay says:

    From the letter:

    “The Media Policy and Ground Rules for Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were provided to each member of the media at Andrews Air Force Base before
    departure to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on April 26, 2010. Paragraph 2a delineates the following restriction: “To not publish, release, discuss or share information identified by commission’s personnel as being Protected
    Information or otherwise protected from disclosure by these ground rules.”
    Paragraph 2.g. of the ground rules states “The identities of all commission personnel, to include the Presiding Officer, commission members, prosecutors, defense counsels, and witnesses, will not be reported or otherwise disclosed in any way without prior release approval of OSD(PA).”

    Specifically, your reporters published the name of a witness whose identity was protected in court. The attached Word document is a collection of four
    news articles written AFTER the Military Judge clearly stated on May 5 that media covering Military Commissions are expected to comply with the
    protection orders. All four (4) articles mention “Interrogator #1″ by his real name.

    In accordance with paragraph 2 of the same policy, failure to comply with these ground rules or the Presiding Officer’s instructions could result in permanent expulsion from the courtroom area and may result in the removal of the parent news organization from further participation and could subject the (NMR) to criminal prosecution.

    Someone help me out here. They violated the prohibition on using his name. They knew the possible sanction ahead of time, if they read the agreement, and if they didn’t, the judge reminded them.
    What we did to this kid is a tragedy, and Interrogator # I is a sick criminal, but the witness protection policy is in place, and they knew it was in place. I don’t know that ignoring the judge and flouting the rules was a smart approach.

  21. 21
  22. 22
    cat48 says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: Also, too I agree with both of you.

  23. 23
    kay says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    You know, it applies to witnesses. That’s state and defense, I assume. It also applies to prosecutors and the defense. I don’t know anything about the nature of this proceeding, and I could very well be missing something, but I think I’d like to know who relies on the protection before I’d want it ignored, just on an ad hoc, discretionary basis.
    I don’t know that I’m on board with that.

  24. 24
    cat48 says:

    This is why Joe, lindsey, and the exmaverick want to strip citizenship before trial so they can send the perp to Gitmo for a Tribunal. Absolutely not I say. They know things will be very secret.

    And if they are lucky, they might even get to torture someone! An asshat wrote oped for Politico explaining this. Some Rep.

  25. 25
    AhabTRuler says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: I think the current issue is directly a result of the Bush admin’s actions, but the broader situation is directly due to America’s actions and choices over the long term.

    Now, I think George Bush and Dick Cheney should be convicted of treason and shot, but I cannot agree that the rot that has infected our nation and its actions began in 2001 . The government, and especially the military, has always been willing to muzzle the press (when they aren’t co-opting them), and it has used (or attempted to use) the power of the courts to muzzle them on more than one occasion. We have treated minors as adults for years, so picking one up on the battlefield should fairly determine his fate. That his fate was to be turned over to a system of coercion and abuse is somewhat surprising, but only a little. Questionable foreign wars are as old as steamships; the only thing that is surprising about that is how easily so many people were gulled into going along, even enthusing, about it (and I guess it isn’t that surprising, after all).

    I don’t think the damage of the Bush administration can be under-emphasized, but we should not pretend that many of these problems are new.

    Now, I will admit that I am feeling very bitter about the state of things; no doubt some of that splashed on you, and for that I am sorry. But I also feel most strongly that part of the way that one prevents crap like this from happening is to always resist certain tendencies of government (i.e. wars, military thinking, classified info, and the sanctioning of the press, among other things).

  26. 26
    kay says:

    @cat48:

    I have a lot of respect for “institutional knowledge”. That’s why I don’t know why they’d violate the order and print his name. They can and should (perhaps) challenge the rules, I’d have to know more about what witnesses they’re “protecting”, and why. But now they can’t cover the events. I don’t know how that serves their purpose.

  27. 27
    AhabTRuler says:

    we have only recently been picking children up in foreign countries and locking them up because they might know something about terrorists. And keeping them locked up indefinitely while interrogating them by torture.

    Frankly, I am baffled as to why you would think that there would be any difference. He was a ‘terrorist’, we did to him what we do to terrorists.

  28. 28
    soonergrunt says:

    @kommrade reproductive vigor: Because Afghans tend to believe the old canard about the size of a black man’s penis. It’s a little sauce for the goose with the whole “Afghans are afraid of homosexuality and rape” thing. Which is a load of crap by the way. They’re afraid of being the victim of a homosexual rape.
    They most emphatically are not afraid of homosexual sex, and if it’s forced, well it’s just better to be the forcer than the forcee.
    Just google the phrase “Afghan Man Love Thursday” and prepare to have your mind blown. Homosexual sex (and pederasty) are now, and have always been, a huge part of conservative Afghan culture, because “Women are for procreation, boys are for recreation” the night before one goes to Mosque and gets washed clean of one’s sins. One only has sex with one’s wife when she’s ritually clean and at the right time of the month to get pregnant. Boys and other men don’t have that problem, so it’s less of a sin.
    Hell, we caught a ACM leader that way. He was butfucking his security guard who was too distracted I suppose. We walked right up on them.
    The only part about homosexual sex that an Afghan man is afraid of is the thought that someone else might think that he actually loves the guy who’s buggering him in a romantic sense. They’ll kill you if they think you believe that about them, but they won’t stop the buggery.
    So if they threatened somebody with that, all that means is that would’ve been perceived as a credible threat because he was well familiar with it. So what?
    And if the reporters printed the guy’s name when there was a specific instruction to protect his identity, then that’s a dick move, period. His life may be in danger because of it. There’s probably a good reason he was under a protective order, his own court martial notwithstanding.

  29. 29
    MattR says:

    @kay: I don’t know if you saw daverave’s comment above that quoted a different part of Ackerman’s article. I don’t really know what to think until more details come out that answer a few questions.

    If other individuals reported the identity, but only these four were banned then how was that decision reached?

    If the testimony is part of the public record and there are other public documents that can be used in conjunction with that testimony to identify the witness, can that be investigated and reported? (bearing in mind that if the reporters at Guantanamo are not allowed to do that reporting, it will not stop others from doing it and publishing the name.)

  30. 30

    @AhabTRuler:

    Well, I do believe that our system of classification of information needs some serious overhauling, and I have spoken about this a number of times here. Too much info is classified for no good reason, and sometimes to cover up illegal activities by the government. I think there needs to be something like a GAO, or similar, that is quasi government, but independent to review abuses of classification, and correct those abuses. I don’t support eliminating all classified info, however. I also have spoken out here for the need of a clear new law mostly shielding journalists from giving up their sources to catch leakers, unless a judge or grand jury finds no public service to the leaks, like with Libby/Plame./

    I also strongly support the new State Secrets legislation that should prevent or lesson the government from making such claims in cases of lawbreaking.

    However, until those changes are law, I stand by the government and others following the current laws. I have never been a big law and order person, but for me the lesson of the Bush years was partly to start insisting on rule of law for all concerned. In this case journalists who gave up a protected witnesses name, possibly putting his life in danger.

  31. 31
    kay says:

    @MattR:

    I agree. I don’t know if the judge didn’t rule they violated the order because it didn’t get to the judge. It looks, from the rules, that they don’t have to get a ruling (although there’s an “appeal” process of some sort).

    It just seems like a very risky approach to take, because I don’t know that they can halt the proceedings until they can get back in, and they did violate the rule. This witness is a scumbag, true, but what about the other witnesses? Is this the only witness name they revealed? If so, what was the reasoning behind revealing him alone?

  32. 32

    @AhabTRuler: Frankly, I have a hard time debating you ahab. You conflate a lot of stuff that is not particularly relative to the topic at hand. What I said was true, it is something new to pick up kids and do what we did with this one. The fact that it also wrong to do that to adults does not diminish the fact this was a child, that likely knew nothing because he was a child. We are supposed to treat children different and I am well aware that in cases of violent crimes we have not been doing that for awhile in this country, for domestic crimes. But that really isn’t relevant, other than maybe tangentially to this case, involving foreign lands and terrorism.

    edit – that is unless one has reached the point where the bitterness and hatred for America has reached a level that no longer lends itself to nuanced debate.

  33. 33
    D-Chance. says:

    Thank GOD we have Obama in charge, now… no reporters, no problems.

    Transparency, bitches!

  34. 34
    MattR says:

    @kay: Agreed. As I said, I need more info. For all I know these four had been warned before while the others who reported this witness’s identity were given their first warning.

    To me the bigger issue is the more general one about these protection orders when the public record has identifying information in it. As an extreme example, if someone testified that before he joined the Army he was a professional football player it would be a bit ridiculous that a reporter in Guantanamo could report that fact, but could not name the witness as Pat Tillman even though Pat Tillman was the only former professional football player in the army. It would be especially ridiculous since every other reporter in the world is allowed to make that connection.

  35. 35
    Corner Stone says:

    @Guster: Nicely done.

  36. 36
    burnspbesq says:

    It may not be entirely coincidental that all four of the reporters who allegedly violated the protective order were Canadian. Canadians tend to see the US justice system as not up to Canadian standards of fairness and therefore unworthy of respect. I remember reading a book about the Conrad Black trial that was written by a prominent Toronto criminal defense lawyer, and the contempt for our system dripped from every page.

  37. 37
    kay says:

    @MattR:

    The letter says “without prior approval”. Did the other reporters get prior approval? I don’t know.
    “Arbitrary” gives me pause, whether that’s applied to barring reporters or violating a protection order.

  38. 38
    AhabTRuler says:

    You conflate a lot of stuff that is not particularly relative to the topic at hand.

    I think that it is entirely relevant; I don’t understand how you can separate the way we treated a young person who has been designated a terrorist from the way we treat young persons who have been designated a prisoner.

    Just because the subject is “terrorism” and the location is foreign doesn’t mean that the same general principles don’t apply. Terrorism is our name for political violence we don’t like, and foreign just means never having to say you’re (really) sorry. So if we are going to do it to adults, it would follow that underage fighters would get the same treatment. Furthermore, I don’t think that such a concept as “age of majority” on the battlefield, and, clearly, some members of the military and government were of the opinion that the battlefield extended to the interrogation room.

  39. 39

    @AhabTRuler: We are entirely on different wavelengths my friend. Not much more to say when that is the case.

  40. 40
    soonergrunt says:

    @burnspbesq:

    the contempt for our system dripped from every page.

    It’s a particular conceit of countries that utilize the English system, “The Americans have a Legal System, We have a JUSTICE System.”
    Which, of course, is an utter load of horseshit.
    In the English system, the Crown (in the person of the prosecutor), the Justice, and the defence work together to ascertain the truth.
    In our system of justice, the guy sitting at my table works for me, and me alone. His sole job is to work for my best interests, in opposition to the state.
    Now, it hasn’t always worked perfectly. Sometimes it hasn’t worked well, even. But the architecture of the system still mitigates against my representative working with the state against my interests.

  41. 41
    MattR says:

    @kay: More good questions. I suppose one of us could email Spencer Ackerman to ask if he received approval.

    And I don’t know what the proper ethical/journalistic guidelines are for a situation like this. The reporters in question figured out the identity of the interregator in question based on various facts stated in open court* and previous research they had done. It was not like they were given the name with the promise they would keep it confidential.

    It does look like they broke the letter of the regulations they agreed to, it also seems like those regulations are overly restrictive. From what I can tell based on this specific instance, the only reason to avoid identifying the interregator is to shield him (and those immediately around him) from embarrassment or to prevent other detainees and their lawyers from potentailly finding out that the same guy who abused them also abused others.

    *Are these actually fully open proceedings with transcripts that will be available to the public?

  42. 42

    @soonergrunt: I think we are at the bottom of the worlds Christmas Card list for a number of reasons, with the general ill sentiment being justified, but some of the specific ones as not. It will take a long time and we returning to something like we once were, albeit imperfect, but not lawless thugs either.

  43. 43
  44. 44
    soonergrunt says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: I don’t think it will matter all that much for things like this.
    There’s a certain amount of anti-americanism out there that will always exist whether the president is Obama, Bush, or Clinton.
    I was in Europe during much of the clinton administration, and the contempt for Americans was palpable even then.
    Quite a bit of it was based on the complaint that our military was too big, which is funny because a, it allowed a lot of european countries to atrophy their own defense apparati and divert that spending to social spending, and b, whenever the europeans wanted something done, like Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, and so on, they immediately looked to us to provide the manpower and cash. I was in europe during the latter part of the US drawdown there, and I remember more than one community demanding that the US draw down and remove the troops and equipment, but keep the base open at US taxpayer expense. Just in case, don’t you know.
    Quite a bit of antiamericanism during the Bush admin was mainly about the fact that we were using this large military for our own purposes and not for theirs.

  45. 45
    Sm*t Cl*de says:

    In the English system, the Crown (in the person of the prosecutor), the Justice, and the defence work together to ascertain the truth.

    Sadly, no.

  46. 46

    @soonergrunt: I agree with the co dependent bratiness sometimes from the Europeans, at least on mutual defense matters. That has been there since WW2, and I suspect some resentment we had to come over and save their bacon. And now that the Cold War is over, or mostly over, they want us gone. But I was thinking that Iraq and things like torture really has them down on us, and not unjustifiably imo. But you are much more traveled than I, so I take your opinion more than my own on this.

  47. 47
    soonergrunt says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: Don’t get me wrong. Iraq really did upset a lot of people in Europe on the merits, and rightly so.
    I just think from my own experience, from the stuff I saw on German TV, in German newspapers and so on that there’s a certain amount of resentment that they don’t fully control the US military for their own ends.
    Jean-Francois Revel and Giacomo Chiozza have a lot of good stuff on this, especially Chiozza’s work, which tells us that anti-americanism is broad and has many levels and sources, some of which are amenable to change, some not.

  48. 48
    Norma says:

    This debate affirms why this blog is my all time favorite. Here is reasoned thought{not the crazy], please do not ever stop this blog! Norma

  49. 49
    Jason In the Peg says:

    That would be interrogator number one. That guys name has been public for years.

    And the ban is total bullshit.

  50. 50
    Jason In the Peg says:

    @Jason In the Peg: I’m not sure why, but my quote and link were stripped from my comment.

    “He has also previously given an interview to the Star.”

    Interrogator number 1 was giving interviews to Canadian newspapers under his real name.

    http://bit.ly/cz2T8o

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