A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled (PDF) Sept. 13 that the US government does not have to release photographs and videotapes taken during the investigation of Mohammed al-Qahtani‘s connection to the September 11 attacks. Al-Qahtani was held in Guantánamo Bay until his charges were eventually dropped. The videotapes depict al-Qahtani’s interrogations, something the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) claims should be public record. However, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald stated:
Ultimately, however, we find that the DOD’s submissions provide adequate justification for the Government’s invocation of [Freedom of Information Act] Exemption 1. In particular, we find it both logical and plausible that extremists would utilize images of al-Qahtani (whether in native or manipulated formats) to incite anti-American sentiment, to raise funds, and/or to recruit other loyalists, as has occurred in the past.
The cited exemption refers to 5 USC § 552(b)(1)(A) [text]. Further, Buchwald noted that she reviewed the tapes and images and determined that, contrary to the CCR’s position, they do not display any misconduct by government officials. Therefore, there was no reason the government’s stated exemption to the Freedom of Information Act should not apply.
This is the most recent development in the several controversies surrounding Guantanamo Bay. Last month the US transferred two Guantánamo detainees to Algeria. In July a US court ruled that Guantánamo guards were allowed to continue detainee genital searches.
From Jurist, Sept. 14. Used with permission.