News Release ~ 01/15/2009

 Guantanamo Observers Protest Trial Secrecy

Washington, DC­ (January 15, 2009) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, on behalf of the John Adams Project, would like to thank the American Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch for their joint friend-of-the-court brief decrying the secrecy curtain that was drawn around the Guantanamo military commission trials in December. Late last month, the military judge issued Protective Order 007 effectively closing the courtroom to all public scrutiny, even treating public information as if it were classified.

The protective order “diminishes the fairness and transparency of these proceedings by permitting the government to exercise virtually unlimited authority to exclude the press, public, and trial observers – including amici,” the brief states. As a result, the groups ask the court to rescind the protective order or to modify it to require individualized determinations about whether specific information should be withheld for reasons of national security or personal safety.

To read the amicus curiae brief filed by the groups in the 9/11 case, please click here. To read the amicus curiae appendices, please click here.

NACDL, in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), formed the John Adams Project to provide expert teams of civilian death penalty lawyers to assistant the under-resourced military defense counsel assigned to Guantánamo detainees.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 10,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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