Opinion from our friends at NEFAC (New England First Amendment Coalition):
For immediate release
CONTACT Rose Cavanagh | 401.331.7209
The New England First Amendment Coalition expressed disappointment at the nation's top military court's refusal to open to the public the court documents and proceedings in the military trial of Pfc. Bradley E. Manning.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, in a 3-2 decision on a suit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, said it may review final decisions in court-martial cases but does not have the authority to rule on public access to the proceedings against Bradley, who is charged with providing classified information to WikiLeaks.
NEFAC is among the 32 right-to-know and news organizations that joined last September in a friend-of-the-court brief seeking access to government motions, court orders, dockets and transcripts of proceedings in Manning's trial.
"This is not the end of the controversy as the decision may be reviewed by the Supreme Court," said Rosanna Cavanagh, NEFAC's executive director. " "In the aftermath of the tragic bombing in Boston, this issue is all the more relevant."
President Obama emphasized the rule of law in his rousing prayer service comments Thursday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
"That's the message we will send to those who carried this out and anyone who would do harm to our people. Yes, we will find you. And, yes, you will face justice. We will find you. We will hold you accountable. But more than that; our fidelity to our way of life — to our free and open society — will only grow stronger," Obama said.
Cavanagh noted that our founding fathers in Boston and elsewhere fashioned the Constitution to make public oversight of the judicial process a hallmark of our democratic system.
"Let us not demean our system of government by stripping it of the very safeguards that make it a uniquely successful human experiment, most importantly the involvement of the people serve as a check on unbridled authority," Cavanagh said. "Let us show a measure of our resolve in the way we handle prosecutions in military commissions."
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NEFAC (a member of NFOIC) was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public's right to know. We're a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, librarians, academics and private citizens.