Under John Ashcroft's direction many deportation cases are carried out in secrecy. And many more people will be just like the disaparados of Latin
America - gone under the auspices of the USA Patriot Act without trace.
But I can't figure this story, covered by the CSM of all media. A 9/11 connected trial, carried out in complete secrecy until the lodgment of the
appeal, becoming public through by accident.
Secret 9/11 case before high court
The justices consider a petition for a case with no public record.
By Warren Richey | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
MIAMI – It's the case that doesn't exist. Even though two different federal courts have conducted hearings and issued rulings, there has been no
public record of any action. No documents are available. No files. No lawyer is allowed to speak about it. Period.
Yet this seemingly phantom case does exist - and is now headed to the US Supreme Court in what could produce a significant test of a question as old
as the Star Chamber, abolished in 17th-century England: How far should a policy of total secrecy extend into a system of justice?
Secrecy has been a key Bush administration weapon in the war on terrorism. Attorney General John Ashcroft warns that mere tidbits of information that
seem innocuous about the massive Sept. 11 investigation could help Al Qaeda carry out new attacks. (Bull# - sorry - interjection).
Yet this highly unusual petition to the high court arising from a Miami case brings into sharp focus the tension between America's long tradition of
open courts and the need for security in times of national peril. At issue is whether certain cases may be conducted entirely behind closed doors
under a secret arrangement among prosecutors, judges, and docket clerks.
What's known about the case
This is among the first of the post-Sept. 11 terrorism cases to wend its way to the nation's highest tribunal. There was no public record of its
existence, however, until the appeal was filed with the clerk of the US Supreme Court.
A federal judge and a three-judge federal appeals-court panel have conducted hearings and issued rulings. Yet lawyers and court personnel have been
ordered to remain silent.
"The entire dockets for this case and appeal, every entry on them, are maintained privately, under seal, unavailable to the public," says a
partially censored 27-page petition asking the high court to hear the case. "In the court of appeals, not just the filed documents and docket sheet
are sealed from public view, but also hidden is the essential fact that a legal proceeding exists."
Despite the heavy secrecy, a brief docketing error led to a newspaper report identifying MKB by name in March. The report said MKB is an Algerian
waiter in south Florida who was detained by immigration authorities and questioned by the FBI.
???? What is highly unusual in MKB v. Warden is that lower court judges ordered the entire case sealed from the start - preventing any mention of it
to the public ????
'Abuse of discretion'?
In her petition to the court, Miami federal public defender Kathleen Williams says the judges' actions authorizing the secrecy without any public
notice, public hearings, or public findings amount to "an abuse of discretion" that requires corrective action by the justices.
A government response to the petition is due Nov. 5. It will mark the first time the Justice Department has publicly acknowledged the existence of the
habeas corpus action. The justices are set to consider the case during their Nov. 7 conference.
Justice Department officials have defended the blanket secrecy policy, saying that public hearings and public dockets would undermine efforts to
recruit detainees as undercover operatives to infiltrate Al Qaeda cells in the US.
???? !!!! ????