On Monday, the court-martial of Lt. Cdr. Matthew M. Diaz began in Norfolk, VA, AP reported. -- Lt. Cdr. Diaz, a U.S. Navy lawyer, is charged with sending the names of Guantánamo detainees to a human rights lawyer. -- Scott Horton brought out the bizarreness of the case in an article posted Monday on the Harper's web site: "[T]he names of the detainees were required to be disclosed. Their non-disclosure was a criminal act. A federal court compelled their disclosure. And now a Guantánamo JAG is being prosecuted for disclosing the names." -- As in the case of Lt. Ehren Watada, in the Diaz case those representing a state that is breaking its own laws are prosecuting others who are upholding well-established foundational legal principles that are being traduced in the name of a bogus, politically motivated "war on terror." ...
EX-NAVY LAWYER ON TRIAL IN GITMO CASE
By Sonja Barisic
May 15, 2007
NORFOLK, Va. -- A Navy lawyer accused of passing secret information about Guantanamo Bay detainees sent a human rights lawyer their names and intelligence about them tucked into a Valentine's Day card, prosecutors said Monday.
Lt. Cmdr. Matthew M. Diaz's actions endangered the lives of the detainees and American troops on the front line in the war on terror, prosecutor Lt. James Hoffman said during opening statements in Diaz's court-martial at Norfolk Naval Station.
"This case deals with the deliberate, intentional, conscious release of classified information," Hoffman told the jury of seven Navy officers.
But defense attorney Lt. Justin Henderson said that the information was not marked classified and that Diaz had no reason to think the document "could be used to injure the United States."
"We don't expect the evidence will show that Diaz made the right decision. We don't expect the evidence will show he made a wise decision," Henderson said. "He made a decision that was less than forthright, but he did not make an unlawful decision."
Diaz was near the end of a six-month stint at the U.S. military base in Cuba when he went to his office the night of Jan. 2, 2005, and used his classified computer to log into a classified military network and accessed a Web database with information about the detainees, Hoffman said.
Diaz printed information including the names of 550 detainees, their nationalities, the interrogators assigned to them, and "intelligence sources and methods," Hoffman said.
Diaz then "cut that document into 39 sheets so that the nation's secrets fit inside this card," Hoffman said as he held up to the jury a copy of the card, with a big heart and a Chihuahua on the front. He said Diaz mailed the card in an unmarked envelope on Jan. 15, 2005, his last day of duty at the base.
Human rights attorney Barbara Olshansky testified that the document in "this weird valentine" she received was not marked classified.
At the time, Olshansky worked for the Center for Constitutional Rights. She said the nonprofit legal group was suing the federal government to obtain the names of detainees because the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that the detainees had the right to challenge their detention.
Olshansky said that she asked the judge in the lawsuit to hold on to the document, but that the judge referred the matter to a Justice Department security officer.
Olshansky also testified that she never had met or spoken with Diaz and that the center was able to obtain some detainees' names from lists compiled by other organizations, such as Amnesty International.
Diaz, 41, of Topeka, Kan., worked as a staff judge advocate at Guantanamo Bay, where he provided counsel to the military command in charge of the detention center but was not involved in detainees' cases, the Navy said. The U.S. military has held at the base since 2002 foreign citizens it suspects have terrorist ties.
Diaz is charged with failing to obey a lawful general regulation, engaging in conduct unbecoming an officer by wrongfully transmitting classified documents to an unauthorized person, and turning over to an unauthorized person secret information related to national defense.
He originally faced 36 years in prison if convicted, but some charges have been consolidated and the maximum punishment now is 24 years, Navy spokesman Kevin Copeland said.
Diaz remains free and is stationed in Jacksonville, Fla.
(This version CORRECTS a name of a group to the Center for Constitutional Rights, instead of the Center for Constitution Rights.)
THE PERSECUTION OF LtCmdr MATTHEW DIAZ
By Scott Horton
May 14, 2007
The Navy has commenced the court-martial in Norfolk, Virginia, of LtCmdr Matthew Diaz. Commander Diaz is a 19-year veteran who was last detailed to serve as a JAG at Guantánamo -- he faces charges that he disseminated “secret national defense information” with “intent or reason to believe that the information was to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation.” The charges carry a possible prison sentence of 36 years. What exactly did Commander Diaz do? It appears from press reports that he mailed a New York law firm a list identifying detainees who were being held at Guantánamo.
The government had a legal obligation to disclose the names to the Red Cross -- an obligation imposed by the Geneva Conventions, and followed by fifty years of military tradition. That obligation exists for simple reasons. Throughout human history, persons held in secret detention have been the victims of heinous abuse by their captors. They have been routinely tortured, abused, and murdered . . . just as has in fact happened with detainees at Guantánamo, to our nation’s lasting shame.
Holding persons in secret detention constitutes a *jus cogens* crime under international law, but it is also classified as a war crime under the Geneva Conventions and under United States criminal law -- the War Crimes Act of 1996. The Department of Defense, under the documented direction of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, decided to withhold the names of detainees seized in connection with the war on terror, including detainees seized in Iraq. Mary Ellen O’Connell, a professor at Notre Dame Law School and one of the nation’s leading authorities on the law of war, has argued that Rumsfeld’s actions were a criminal act for which he should be prosecuted. Indeed, that may well be a consensus view among rule of law scholars, and it is probable that Rumsfeld will be prosecuted at some point, though not by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who may well have been complicit in the crime. The Associated Press responded to the Defense Department’s decision to withhold information about the identity of the Guantánamo detainees by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) proceeding to compel their disclosure. The Pentagon mounted a number of increasingly absurd arguments in defending this suit, principally saying that it was entitled to withhold the names of the detainees because it would “invade their privacy” for this information to be disclosed. The federal court hearing the matter was not amused by these evasions, and ordered the disclosure of the data. Accordingly, under federal court order, the data was turned over to the AP and published.
So the names of the detainees were required to be disclosed. Their non-disclosure was a criminal act. A federal court compelled their disclosure. And now a Guantánamo JAG is being prosecuted for disclosing the names, with a claim that his action was “with intent to benefit a foreign nation.” What is the matter with this picture?
Even on the growing list of absurd hyperventilations used by the Bush Administration in connection with the Guantánamo detainees, this case takes on a “now-top-this” quality. And this indeed helps to explain why in the earlier proceedings, the Government’s own chief witness on national security classifications refused to appear and testify on the Government’s behalf.
America’s military justice process was once something the country could be proud of. It was streamlined and disciplined, but it reflected unmistakable justice. The persecution of Commander Diaz is of a piece with the cashiering of Commander Swift and Major Mori, the absurd accusations brought against Gitmo defense counsel, the whispering campaign against them with the detainees (in which counsel are labeled by military jailors as “Jews,” “Zionists,” and “homosexuals”), and the efforts by Deputy Assistant Secretary Cully Stimson’s efforts to separate the Gitmo lawyers from their clients. All of this conduct is disgraceful and embarrassing. It reflects the values of a totalitarian state and not a democracy that values justice. It brings shame on the military and the nation. And it reminds us how our current crisis in the administration of justice does not stop with Alberto Gonzales and the Justice Department.