Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.
The public demands accountability, as it should, and transparency, as it should, but forgets to participate in making either of those things possible.
For several years now, the ACLU has been fighting to have released the documents, photographs and videos, of detainee abuse under our misguided "noble cause."
Today, August 30 - the court will allow the "People" to hear the government's case on why the rape of children, for example - under Project Copper Green - is conducive to winning the war on terror. Perhaps the argument will not be made in those explicit, honest terms, but the substance of the crimes discussed and our need to know about them will be evident even if buried under mounds of legal verbiage.
You Are Here
Part of the hearings will be redacted, but the whole hearing may as well be behind closed doors, given the little interest the public has shown for this case.
The "People" are missing from the one moment in which their physical presence is not merely symbolic, but actually and fully active, in making the difference on how the court rules.
The moment our country was hijacked into grief and fear on 9/11, the DOD began to conceive of a policy in which torture, rape, and murder would become the tool of choice for the American military-industrial-complex.
We, the "People", do not know how many "un-Americans" and labeled "terrorists" have been tortured, raped, and murdered and how many are still, to this day - at this very moment - being abused by hired contractors and industrial-grade sadists. We don't know who these "detainees" are or for what reasons they are being held.
What we do know is beyond inhumane. Imagine the horror of what is buried in the crypts of a decadent government and its destructive power lust. Imagine what we do not know.
It is easy to say of the detainees that "they are terrorists." But can anyone know for certain, without a hesitation or doubt that not a single, innocent soul is inside those rooms or graves? Would anyone be willing to wager their life on such an assertion?
Can anyone say for sure that "every" person murdered was a terrorist? Because if the answer is yes, how does one then account for the women and children, some as young as six, found at Abu?
Why are you not here?
There have been precious few moments where the people could be active in holding their leadership accountable. We need to know what was done in our name, using our money, and without our consent no matter how vile. We need to know in order to respond, no matter what the response is.
The DOD has re-interpreted the law and filed appeal after appeal in order to keep us from knowing even the "why." They have argued that we, the "People", should not know "why" the photographs and videos must be classified and permanently sealed - cherry picking the FOIA statutes and conveniently sewing them into an unrecognizable declaration, hand delivered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff himself. Consider the implications of a government using whistleblower status in order to cover up not only its crimes, but even the reasons for the cover up.
Today, however, we just might know a great deal more
There is no Congress here, in the open court, or a series of votes that must be passed for the public to attend and essentially bare witness. This, in essence, is the collective citizen turning to the one bastion of accountability left (perhaps): the courts. That is, if the collective citizen attends.
Imagine how the court might rule if the "People" stood outside, a vigil of lights, signs, pleas and tears in the very city, not far from the very place, where this entire nightmare began.
The impact of such a sea of people at this one moment in time is far more important than a march in any city at any time. The decision to release documents of war crimes committed in our name, your name - my name- may hinge on the one thing that may sway the court: our need to know.
Yet, there are no all night vigils in front of the court to attract the news cameras, who are otherwise disabled by single topic, big money making stories. There are no organized trips for marches down Broadway or any other street. The people are passive spectators awaiting the judges' ruling, as though they had no impact or input in this process.
But the "People" don't realize that they are not only part of the process, they are the process - the collective citizen is the national conscience.
Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein
U.S. District Court
500 Pearl Street, Room #910
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