Gitmo perverts the law

Scott Horton, at Harpers: Another Chapter in the Justice Department’s State-Secrecy Charade

ProPublica’s Dafna Linzer has an important story on a court opinion issued in the case of Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman, a man imprisoned for seven years in Guantánamo. Judge Henry Kennedy concluded that the prisoner is mentally ill and that the government had no tenable basis to hold him. He issued an opinion, going through the normal channels for classification review. The Justice Department cleared a form of his opinion, and it was released. Within days, the Justice Department, stung by the scathing nature of the opinion, which methodically reviewed false factual claims that DOJ lawyers made, insisted that it be withdrawn and rewritten, apparently arguing to the judge that it disclosed classified information about the circumstances of the prisoner’s capture. As quickly became apparent, the object of the Justice Department’s revisions had little to do with state secrets—but a lot to do with covering up the Court’s dissection of what lawyers like to call a “failure of candor.”

The US needs to get some training from Egyptian State Security courts if it wants more pliant judges.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.