- Wednesday, February 20, 2019
U.S. Government Accountability Office Report: DOD Should Assess the Tradeoffs Associated With Expanding Public Access to and Information About Terrorism Trials
Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP partner Paul Tauber is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy Guantánamo Bay (GTMO) Task Force. Building on recommendations made by the GTMO Task Force's 2016 report, Up to Speed, and legislation passed in response to the report, on February 12, 2019, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report concerning increased public access to pre-trial hearings of alleged terrorists held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO).
The GAO's report recommends that the Department of Defense (DOD) analyze the tradeoffs associated with expanding public access to and information about the military commissions' proceedings and develop a strategy for meeting its public access goals, as public interest is expected to increase when the commissions enter into their trial phases. The DOD agreed with the GAO's recommendation.
In 2013, the Pacific Council was granted official NGO observer status at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO) by the Office of Military Commissions, joining a group of organizations, including the American Bar Association and the New York City Bar Association, that have the privilege of sending a representative to observe proceedings at GTMO.
Paul traveled to GTMO in February 2015 and again in 2016 and 2018 as a civilian observer on behalf of the Pacific Council to observe a week of hearings in the matter of US v. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is the alleged mastermind of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and stands trial along with four others.
Since 2013, 50 members of the nonpartisan Pacific Council have spent a collective 255 days at Camp Justice as observers of the Guantánamo proceedings.
Paul’s GTMO assignment follows the lead of the late William (Bill) Coblentz, who was also appointed as an observer by the American Bar Association in 1989 when he traveled to Singapore on behalf of the ABA to observe the trials of four Singaporean lawyers accused of conspiring to undermine the government.