DOJ Tries to Disappear Latest Wikileaks Disclosures

If you're a lawyer for one of the 170 or so remaining detainees at Guantanamo Bay, you're probably happy that Wikileaks has finally dropped the classified case files for each defendant showing just how spurious, thin, and ludicrous much of the evidence against them is. That sort of information could come in handy for a trial or tribunal. Too bad it's classified, and therefore, according to the Justice Department, can't be used in court unless we say so nanny-nanny-boo-boo.

According to Empty Wheel, all defense attorneys for Gitmo inmates recently got a memo from "court security" saying, in effect, the Wikileaks disclosures were double-plus-ungood and therefore never happened. They are undocuments:

Subject: Information in the public domain 2nd reminder

All:

As many of you have undoubtedly heard or read, government documents that may contain classified information have been released via the news media. As a reminder, information that is marked as classified, or that a person with access to classified information knows to be classified, remains as such despite a potential public disclosure by unauthorized means. Classified National Security Information only becomes declassified when the appropriate original classification authority makes their determination that the information may no longer cause damage to national security and may be declassified. Accordingly, consistent with your Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreements and Memorandum of Understanding that you signed as a participant in the Guantanamo Habeas proceedings, counsel are hereby cautioned that this presumptively classified information must be handled in accordance with all relevant security precautions and safeguards, including but not limited to, use and preparation in the Secure Facility and filing under seal with the Court Security Officer.

Thank you.

Court Security

Got that? Reporters covering your case—heck, your children—are free to read through the Gitmo files right now on their laptops, but if you're a defense attorney, you have to get permission from the government in advance and store them in a secure facility.

This is a continuation of the government's longstanding incoherent and maddening response to the Wikileaks disclosures, which holds that documents continue to be secret in some bizarre metaphysical sense—and must be treated as such—even when they are plainly no longer secret in the actual world that we inhabit. It's even more Kafkaesque in the context of court proceedings, when things like access to a vigorous defense tend to be highly valued. Not, apparently, as much as secrecy.

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