Monday, May 9, 2011

Request for Access to Military Commissions

David A. Schulz, an attorney at Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, sent a letter to Jeh Johnson, General Counsel of the Department of Defense regarding the lack of access to military commissions at Guantanamo Bay on behalf of various media outlets.  The DoD invited several media outlets to take part in a round table discussion last year on the topic of public access to the commissions.  This letter was written in follow up to that earlier discussion.  The letter states:
[T]he ability of reporters to cover the proceedings is being thwarted by the continuing failure to provide access to basic information about the commission proceedings--information that is routinely available in the criminal justice system, constitutionally required under the First Amendment and essential for meaningful press coverage of a criminal prosecution.
The detailed letter provides a legal analysis of the issue as well as some concrete suggestions for solving the problem.  These suggestions include: creating a public docket provided on a real-time basis, prompt access to motions, that a live-feed of the 9/11 case be transmitted to reporters in the U.S., a mechanism for reporters to appeal redaction orders and closure orders, and that reporters be allowed to speak with lawyers and witnesses without prior consent of the public affairs office.