"Televisionâ€™s newest legal drama could be the rawest one ever. It comes later this fall, beamed in from the courtroom near the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Only you wonâ€™t get to watch it.
Right now, there is only one way to witness a so-called military commission for an accused terrorist: Ask the Pentagon to let you travel to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Be warned: Only journalists and representatives of human-rights groups get approved. And those lucky few civilians admitted to the island have to pay several hundred dollars to hang around a baking-hot military base under constant supervision â€” vastly stricter than any base in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Oh, and they also have to sign a long, confusing list of rules that allows the military to censor all your footage at Gitmo. And if officers think a reporter has violated any of those rules, the journo can kiss future coverage goodbye.
But thatâ€™s starting to change. Somewhat.
The new military commissions chief, Brig. Gen. Mark Martins â€” who once took Danger Room on a tour of Bagramâ€™s detention center â€” is letting more sunlight peek into the courtrooms of Guantanamo. Tucked into a fawning Weekly Standard profile is the news that the Pentagon will beam a closed-circuit feed from the commissions room back into an undisclosed venue in the continental United States. Thereâ€™ll be a 40-second delay to protect classified information.
The first such commission to be beamed into the States will probably belong to Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, the accused mastermind of the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole. Commission officials filed capital charges against al-Nashiri on Wednesday. No date for the hearing has been set.
But the average citizen probably wonâ€™t get to see Nashiriâ€™s commission, or any other Gitmo trial. And since thereâ€™s no photography permitted in the courtroom â€” just the indefatigable sketch artist Janet Hamlin â€” donâ€™t expect any archived video to show up on the Pentagonâ€™s YouTube channel. (The networks will probably get to shoot video of the closed-circuit, though the details are still undetermined.) Military commissions will remain less transparent than U.S. civilian courts..."