Secrets…5,000+ of Them

With all the pissing this administration does on the Constitution, it was only a matter of time before the ink smeared so thoroughly as to render all of its amendments illegible. Apparently, we’ve now waved bye-bye to the Sixth Amendment:

[N]early all records are being kept secret for more than 5,000 defendants who completed their journey through the federal courts over the last three years. Instances of such secrecy more than doubled from 2003 to 2005.

An Associated Press investigation found, and court observers agree, that most of these defendants are cooperating government witnesses, but the secrecy surrounding their records prevents the public from knowing details of their plea bargains with the government.
Sure, sure, but we can’t let the terrorists know what’s going on with all these cases against terrorists during the Global War on Terror, can we?

Most of these defendants are involved in drug gangs.

The data show a sharp increase in secret case files over time as the Bush administration's well-documented reliance on secrecy in the executive branch has crept into the federal courts through the war on drugs, anti-terrorism efforts and other criminal matters.

"This follows the pattern of this administration," said John Wesley Hall, an Arkansas defense attorney and second vice president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "I am astonished and shocked that this many criminal proceedings in federal court escape public scrutiny or become buried."

The percentage of defendants who have reached verdicts and been sentenced but still have most of their records sealed has more than doubled in the last three years, the court office's tally shows…

"The Supreme Court has said that criminal proceedings are public," [Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee and a pioneer in campaigning against court secrecy] added. "In this country, we don't prosecute and lock up convicts and have no public track record of how we got there. That violates the defendants' rights not to mention the public's right to know what it's court system is doing."
I believe you’re speaking about America 1.0, Ms. Dalglish. This country is America 2.0, and in America 2.0, we* do whatever the fuck we want to, dammit.


* Not applicable for progressives, women, gays, people of color, the poor, the elderly, the infirm, and/or any other American citizen or resident deemed excluded at the administration’s sole discretion.

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