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Court martial begins for Guantanamo JAG who leaked detainee list
May 15, 2007 7:50 AM   Subscribe

It began with an innocent-looking Valentine's Day card in 2005. Inside the card were several slips of paper, a hastily cut-up printout of names of 550 secret detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The human rights lawyer who received "this weird valentine" handed it over to authorities, and this week the court martial begins for JAG LtCmdr Matthew Diaz, facing 36 years for divulging state secrets.
Whither goest thou, American Jurisprudence?
posted by planetkyoto (47 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
One thing that has inspired me in the very long last six years is how ordinary people in the military have risked their careers to speak out against abuses within the system. There's a fund of decency in American culture that Bush and Co. simply can't eradicate, try as they may.
posted by sy at 8:06 AM on May 15, 2007 [8 favorites]


Goes to show you can't trust a lawyer.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:11 AM on May 15, 2007


Dear Ms. Olshansky,

I don't know if turning that card over and testifying against LtCmdr Diaz makes you a good lawyer, but it sure as fuck makes you a bad person.

Sincerely,

Your fucking conscience.
posted by shmegegge at 8:15 AM on May 15, 2007 [6 favorites]


Matthew Diaz, if you need a place to stay after they've released you in 2042, give me a call.
posted by unixrat at 8:19 AM on May 15, 2007


Damn, that's cold. Ice cold.
posted by dazed_one at 8:31 AM on May 15, 2007


I'd just like to note one thing from the story:
Henderson began his opening statement by saying Diaz had faced a "moral dilemma" and "a crisis of conscience revolving around conflicting duties." The prosecution immediately objected to that statement as well as two others, and the jury was sent out of the courtroom three times during Henderson's remarks.
So he took steps - steps that violated the laws of the United States with regards to classified information - to deal with this dilemma. He did this because he thought it was the right thing to do.
posted by mephron at 8:38 AM on May 15, 2007


I'd just like to note one thing from the story:
Henderson began his opening statement by saying Diaz had faced a "moral dilemma" and "a crisis of conscience revolving around conflicting duties." The prosecution immediately objected to that statement as well as two others, and the jury was sent out of the courtroom three times during Henderson's remarks.
So he took steps - steps that violated the laws of the United States with regards to classified information - to deal with this dilemma. He did this because he thought it was the right thing to do.
posted by mephron at 8:38 AM on May 15, 2007


Dear shmegegge,

I also enjoyed the 300. Why can't everyone be a Spartan like the two of us are? It is clear that Barbara Olshansky, a good for nothing human rights lawyer who has never even killed anyone, is what is wrong with America. Human rights lawyers always lack the courage of their convictions (that is why they fight them in court) otherwise she would have stood up to the full weight of the current administration. She volunteered to fight when she opened her mail! Why she didn't just take the names and do nothing with them in order to protect the JAG is beyond me!

Sincerely,

Me.
posted by srboisvert at 8:38 AM on May 15, 2007


Surely, this...
posted by Soliloquy at 8:41 AM on May 15, 2007


Thoughtcrime.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:43 AM on May 15, 2007


If someone gives you classified information, and you know it's classified, can you get charged under the same law if you then pass it on to someone else?
posted by smackfu at 8:48 AM on May 15, 2007


My brother was in a punk band named "Thoughtcrime". Great name for a band. I still have the t-shirt.

Yep.
posted by LordSludge at 8:56 AM on May 15, 2007


Matthew Diaz, if you need a place to stay after they've released you in 2042, give me a call.

Hells yeah. If things go south, Matthew Diaz, I'm sure we can arrange for all the Valentine's cards you'd ever want.
posted by Firas at 9:06 AM on May 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


So he took steps - steps that violated the laws of the United States....

Is anyone but me noticing the similarities between, "I was just following the law" and "I was just following orders"?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:13 AM on May 15, 2007


From what I gather, the United States was violating the laws of the United States, and he's the one who was actually following them.
posted by dickasso at 9:16 AM on May 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


the jury was sent out of the courtroom three times during Henderson's remarks.

Hope he likes railroads, because he's on one now. Why in hell would you allow testimony but send the jury away while it's given, unless you want the appearance of a fair trial (suppressing his testimony completely would be a little too blatant) without actually having one? I'm sure some legal beagle will come in here and tell me how this is perfectly normal, but I think there's a point at which if the procedures of justice don't make sense to an ordinary person with a brain in his head, they probably don't really make any sense at all.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:18 AM on May 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


This woman is clearly committed to human rights.
posted by dead_ at 9:19 AM on May 15, 2007


Why in hell would you allow testimony but send the jury away while it's given, unless you want the appearance of a fair trial (suppressing his testimony completely would be a little too blatant) without actually having one?

Isn't sending the jury out the same thing as the typical lawyer show thing where the lawyers argue in the judge's chamber about admissibility or such? Except it's actually more transparent.
posted by smackfu at 9:46 AM on May 15, 2007



From what I gather, the United States was violating the laws of the United States, and he's the one who was actually following them.


yup. he should be awarded instead of prosecuted.
posted by amberglow at 9:57 AM on May 15, 2007


Why in hell would you allow testimony but send the jury away while it's given[...]

I've only just finished my first year of law school, so I'm not sure if I qualify as a "legal beagle," but opening statements are not the same as testimony and are not supposed to contain any statements of fact or opinion. They're supposed to say things like "the evidence will show X, Y, and Z." If the lawyer was inserting his own opinion about his client's state of mind, as it appears he was, the objections were almost certainly justified.
posted by Partial Law at 10:02 AM on May 15, 2007


Let's say you're working on something that meets with this administration's deep disapproval. You are demanding information that the administration claims is classifed. Suddenly, you receive that information from an unknown and unofficial source. Given Plamegate, Swiftboating, Attorneygate, Tillman-Lynch, yellow cake, WMD, ad infinitum, do you think anything other than, "That's no moon"? If you're anything other than an idiot, you immediately avoid the trap and turn over the info.

Is she claiming that Diaz deserves to hang? Is she claiming that he sent her the names knowing they were classified? Is she claiming that Diaz broke the law? No, she is simply testifying to facts already known: she received a package full of information. They can't make her denounce Diaz as a traitor, but they can have her state that she received the info from him. She's not supposed to have that info, so that's all they need. Back off her (remember: she's been actively fighting this administration's misdeeds for years while you shifted your weight from one buttock to the other) and concentrate on the real question: should those names have been classified?
posted by forrest at 10:02 AM on May 15, 2007


forrest, you're right. You're exactly right. This woman values the status quo more than human rights. Bottom line.
posted by dead_ at 10:09 AM on May 15, 2007


Diaz mailed the card on Jan. 15, 2005, his last day in Cuba, cutting the pages "so that the nation's secrets fit inside the card," Hoffman [the prosecutor] said.

He'll get contempt of court if he keeps trying to be funny like that.
posted by stavrogin at 10:35 AM on May 15, 2007


How did we get to this fucked up place in America? A list of names held in the most public of our secret prisons is itself a secret? He should have tried to get the list to Cuba proper and they could have sent it to the world.
posted by Megafly at 10:57 AM on May 15, 2007


KC, dickasso, yes, that was what I was getting at. Thank you.

And sorry about the accidental double.

And no, those names shouldn't have been classified. Of course, they shouldn't have been classified because there shouldn't goddamn BE the Gitmo Gulag at all.
posted by mephron at 11:38 AM on May 15, 2007


Maybe someday, Spielberg will make another movie - Diaz's List.
posted by mediaddict at 11:54 AM on May 15, 2007


If you're anything other than an idiot, you immediately avoid the trap and turn over the info.

this makes no sense to me. Remember watergate? started with leaked info. Human Rights lawyers are supposed to be some of the people that put that information to its best use. What she did was give it back and testify against someone doing the right thing.
posted by shmegegge at 11:56 AM on May 15, 2007


Oh please. That woman did the only thing she could. If she had used the information in any way she would have been the defendant. You may feel all brave behind your keyboard but I haven't read about any mefites throwing away their careers or freedom to fight this admin despite the big talk. And that is with free choice. Imagine somebody else making that decision for you.

I applaud Diaz for his conscience and courage but frankly I lose respect for him for drafting an unwilling participant in his leak. That was sheer stupidity. There was nothing that lawyer could have done and something she was obligated to do - report it. If he had leaked to a reporter he would be much better off and he had to know this.

Perhaps he felt that mail to a news organization wouldn't be delivered from Gitmo or something but I hardly see how it could then get through to a human rights lawyer.

I know a lot of people here are passionately opposed to the current administration but do people really think there should be an anti-bush draft that conscripts people to go to trial and possibly jail? Particularly when the drafted individuals are already fighting the administration in a way that they freely choose?

Oh and schmegegge what she is doing is telling the truth in court. Do you really think that is wrong?
posted by srboisvert at 12:54 PM on May 15, 2007


Forrest is right. Olshansky could not know she wasn't being set up by the administration.

If the trial and appeals can go on long enough, and a democrat manages to (is allowed to) win in '08, we can all try at that time to convince the new President to exercise his power of pardon and Diaz will serve a bare minimum of time actually behind bars.
posted by jamjam at 1:03 PM on May 15, 2007


If I were in Olshanky's shoes, I could not be sure it was not a trap.

I would be terrified of the prison time/other consequences I could face for sharing the names.

But, weighing that against the rights I believe those 550 guantanamo detainees should have to habeus corpus, I have to say I would have released the names.

I am not a rah rah American, but there are certain freedoms in our constitution that I would be willing to fight or die to protect.
posted by mai at 1:19 PM on May 15, 2007


I am curious as to what people think she would have been charged with if she had not reported receiving the list. Do you actually think that the administration can send you some information (any, really) and if you bin it, you can be charged? Even if it was a trap, she could not be charged if she just chucked it. And even if she did do something with it, whether she could be charged then is somewhat debatable. She is not in the same position as someone such as Diaz, who has signed onto their responsibility for maintaining secrecy.
posted by Bovine Love at 2:18 PM on May 15, 2007


Oh and schmegegge what she is doing is telling the truth in court. Do you really think that is wrong?
posted by srboisvert at 3:54 PM on May 15 [+] [!]


do you really enjoy attacking other mefites for no reason, and talking about how cowardly behind their keyboards when all they're doing is discussing something? tell you what, here's a better question:

have you ever heard of a paper shredder? here's the choice in front of you as a human rights lawyer: destroy the list and pretend you never saw it, resulting in jail time for nobody. OR, you can turn it in and be compelled (as you knew you would be) to testify against the one person in gitmo trying to set things right, thereby being complicit (however legally) in putting a good man behind bars for doing the right thing.
posted by shmegegge at 3:04 PM on May 15, 2007


oh, and my name doesn't have a c in it.
posted by shmegegge at 3:05 PM on May 15, 2007


if you bin it, you can be charged?

Being charged is the last thing to worry about from that regime.
posted by pompomtom at 3:15 PM on May 15, 2007


News media, that's where he should have sent the information. Yeah, Fox News, they would have printed it or broadcast it.

That's just another shame that the conservative cabal has cast over our nation. Our once watchdog media are now lapdogs, serving up Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan 24/7, keeping pretty close to the administration line on most policy issues, and generally not rocking the boat. A steady stream of intimidation, stroking, and sandbagging have brought us here and now they reap the rewards of having very little accountability for their shredding of the constitution.

Poor guy probably realized this after considering it and hoped that a civil rights lawyer would know what to do with the list. Ironic, ain't it?
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:02 PM on May 15, 2007


shmegegge you were ripping on a person placed in very difficult place without her consent. I quote:

but it sure as fuck makes you a bad person.

You judge yet would not be judged? So yes I call you out on your bravery. You expect it of others so it seems fair game to me.

Your email is in your profile. Somebody could now leak info to you based on your seeming declaration of willingness to sacrifice all. Would you burn yourself? Really? That you don't have any sympathy for someone put in this situation is beyond my understanding. I certainly don't expect everyone to be that self sacrificing and brave. I know I am not. In fact I am not even close to that. This woman has probably already done far more altruistic and semi-altruistic good than I probably ever will in my whole life.

It is true she could have binned the letter.

That wouldn't have eliminated the possibility of devastating consequences in the transfer of the dubiously secret information, that she was thoroughly aware the government considered a national security issue, though since the leaker could be caught other ways and possibly reveal her unwilling involvement. Then she would still be on the hook. She had no way of knowing how well the leaker covered his tracks, what kind of person he truly was or as people have stated whether it was a trap.

So I think your choices don't reflect the full range of possibilities or potential consequences. I'll amend them for you:

Further the leak of the list - court, jail, career ended for both the leaker and her and some people's respect.

Destroy the list and live in fear that your receipt of the list is ever discovered and she gets court, jail, career ended - nobody's respect since nobody knows.

It's a trap. You go down with Admiral Ackbar.

Turn the list in. It's existence goes public. Leaker deals with consequences of his own actions - court, jail, career ended. Your life continues as it was. nobody's respect - some people's understanding and apparently some people's open hostility.


I don't see how you can laud the JAG and condemn the lawyer when he is willing to place others at risk for his own actions while trying to conceal his own involvement. He had the right goal but his means were both stupid and thoughtless. Even your own idea of an appropriate response to the situation is for her to shred the list so the best result of his actions is nothing. If he truly had the courage of his convictions he would have leaked the info directly to the press so he would be the only person on the hook. He is a JAG so he knows the law and hopefully isn't dumb but his decision making is a bit bizarro. You would think he would have thought it through like the attorney he is supposed to be.



my name doesn't have a c in it.


My bad. Apologies.
posted by srboisvert at 4:05 PM on May 15, 2007


You would think he would have thought it through like the attorney he is supposed to be.

What if he, as a JAG, knew the woman would be likely to turn in what he sent, and he thought (erroneously or not, I don't know) that having himself put on trial for this would draw more publicity and attention to the list, and to the fact that the government is fighting the release of these names?

Do I think it's true? Not really. But it would make a pretty typical movie plot.
posted by davejay at 4:34 PM on May 15, 2007


The debate about turning the card over misses the point. This is not an issue of whether Olshansky should have risked her own neck to protect Diaz. As a lawyer she owes a duty to the "detainees" who she represents. Failing to disclose the card would jeopardise their case. It would be legally and morally wrong for her to sacrifice their interests by doing so.
posted by tackandgybe at 4:35 PM on May 15, 2007


he thought (erroneously or not, I don't know) that having himself put on trial for this would draw more publicity and attention to the list

It's more likely he didn't think they tracked things that carefully, and thought he would get away with it.
posted by smackfu at 4:55 PM on May 15, 2007


When I see people asking how we could possibly be in such a fucked up time in America? I tend to wonder when in history were we not having a fucked up time for one reason or another. I'm not making light of this at all. I'm just wondering, are we capable of achieving truly good times and sustaining them? Or have we? Has anyone? Or do we just have lifetimes of various power-driven, sucky leaders & wars & stuff to look forward to? Is this the best we can really do for ourselves? Because damn. That sucks.

Ooof. I'm even more depressed now than I was.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:10 PM on May 15, 2007


srboisvert: Although the case you linked to ( "... she would still be on the hook ..." ) is very worrisome, it is not precedent yet (quite a long way, in fact). And it is relatively clear they are grasping at straws in a case where they can't get the real charge they want. I would be very surprised if that case ran its complete course. Furthermore, no court in the land would convict if it was a trap; the U.S. has slipped here and there, but no where near that far.

Perhaps she hoped to make it public by turning it over, or had some rationale, but I think without question binning it would have been safe. She could easily claim she believed it to be false and a plant .... she could claim she believed it to be a trap with false information.
posted by Bovine Love at 5:29 PM on May 15, 2007


maybe she could have thrown it away and lied about it later if necessary, but didn't want to.
posted by snofoam at 5:52 PM on May 15, 2007


to lie, that is.
posted by snofoam at 5:52 PM on May 15, 2007


srboisvert,

you're missing the point. she never had to acknowledge that she recognized what it was or opened it. she could have said, and never been proven wrong "I don't know what you're talking about. I get a lot of junk mail I don't open and simply throw away." the end, the good man doesn't go to jail. as it stands, she is partly responsible for this man's predicament and I'm calling her out on it. so yeah, you want to go ahead and tell me I'm a keyboard warrior or whatever ad hominem deviation from the point you want, fine. but you're ignoring the truth in favor of being a dick.
posted by shmegegge at 5:56 PM on May 15, 2007


you want to go ahead and tell me I'm a keyboard warrior or whatever ad hominem deviation from the point you want, fine. but you're ignoring the truth in favor of being a dick..

That made me laugh. Lets just agree to disagree before I start making unfortunate jokes. We clearly value different things. You seem more end focused and I am more means focused so we will probably never agree except on the being a dick thing.
posted by srboisvert at 6:36 PM on May 15, 2007


I side with Olshansky here. It must have been a wrenching decision, but if you are defending the rule of law, you go all the way. You have to.

In many ways the list of names was much less important than the public, political act of forcing the government to divulge the list of names. As a participant in a lawsuit on behalf of the detainees, she had a legal duty to her clients, and acceptance of classified material that could jeopardize that lawsuit would be a breach of that duty. She must have considered the possibility that it was a setup, given cases like James Yee's -- an attempt to discredit her and the CCR publicly, or even potentially have her or the CCR removed from acting on behalf of the detainees.

In a sense, Diaz picked the exact wrong person to send this information to. I would find less fault with what he did if it had been released to someone in the media, but by choosing an attorney with a case before the government, he really put her in an untenable position. She had no duty toward him.
posted by dhartung at 9:33 PM on May 15, 2007


Trust a lawyer? He should of sent me the list. I have no conflicting interests, being, you know, unemployed.
posted by iamck at 9:58 PM on May 15, 2007


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