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9.11 investigation

Bu$h Administration Wants Entire 9/11 Case Kept Secret

Lucy A. Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said she was disappointed by the government's request.

''The idea that there is nothing that could be filed publicly is really ridiculous,'' she said. ''It just emphasizes our point that we're living in frightening times. People can be arrested, thrown in jail and have secret court proceedings, and we know absolutely nothing about it.''
Bush administration wants entire 9/11 case kept secret

BY GINA HOLLAND

January 6, 2004

WASHINGTON -- In an extraordinary request, the Bush administration asked the Supreme Court on Monday to let it keep its arguments secret in a case involving an immigrant's challenge of his treatment after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Mohamed Kamel Bellahouel wants the high court to consider whether the government acted improperly by secretly jailing him after the attacks and keeping his court fight private. He is supported by more than 20 journalism organizations and media companies.

Solicitor General Theodore Olson told justices in a one-paragraph filing that ''this matter pertains to information that is required to be kept under seal.''

Justices sometimes are asked to keep parts of cases private because of information sensitive for national security or other reasons, but it's unusual for an entire filing to be kept secret.

Lucy A. Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said she was disappointed by the government's request.

''The idea that there is nothing that could be filed publicly is really ridiculous,'' she said. ''It just emphasizes our point that we're living in frightening times. People can be arrested, thrown in jail and have secret court proceedings, and we know absolutely nothing about it.''

The court will decide later whether to consider Bellahouel's appeal and at the same time whether to allow the secret filing. Justices will be able to review the government's private arguments.

Bellahouel, an Algerian who worked as a waiter in South Florida, came under FBI scrutiny because hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan al Shehhi dined where he worked in the weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

He was among hundreds of foreigners rounded up after the hijackings. The government has refused to release names and information about the detentions, arguing that a blanket secrecy policy is needed to protect national security.

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal last year from newspapers that sought information about the detentions. Bellahouel's case asks the justices to consider whether the government violated the nation's long tradition of open court proceedings.

Lower courts kept private the existence of the case. Olson's filing deletes the name of the appeals court that ruled against Bellahouel.

Bellahouel, who is free on $10,000 bond, is known in court papers only as M.K.B. Because of a mistake at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, the M.K.B. records were briefly made public.

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they wouldn't ask for secrecy if they weren't afraid of something... 09.Jan.2004 10:37

this thing here

the primary advantage these star chambers offer the bush admin. is the absolute freedom from any press coverage.

this offers them many things. it prevents damaging information getting onto the public record. in this particular case, and in any similar case, my bet is this: info about what the government knew BEFORE 9-11 happened. it will prevent an exchange like this from reaching the public: "so how long was this individual under surveillance?" "approximately x months." "and when did this surveillance begin?" "early 2001." "so you were watching this individual interact with mohammed atta months before 9-11?" "yes." the bush admin. will do EVERYTHING in its power to insure what they knew and when they knew it never reaches the public.

it also prevents any backlash. no one can complain about a suspect being punished harshly for merely being a material witness, or being held indefintely for merely "interacting" with suspects if the trial is held in secret.

it also prevents the embarrassment of an aquittal. if no one knows the suspect ever had a trial, no one would know the suspect was freed because the government had a shitty worthless case. there are recent stories about how the justice dept. continues to claim that it has "400 terrorism cases", when in reality, something like less than 100 actually involve terrorism, and the rest are bogus trumped charges thrown out of court. if only they could hold these cases in secret, they would save themselves the embarrassment of their record going public.

"national security" is nothing more than a laughable, obvious cover story.

anytime a government moves to do something in secret that has always been done in public, that is a sign the government is afraid of something and is trying to protect itself and its interests. "democracy dies behind secrecy."