Sunday, October 03, 2010

Document of the Week: Judge Ricardo M. Urbina's Decision in Jarvik v CIA

I've posted the decision in this FOIA case on Scribd. After some four years, and two lawsuits, I have received precisely zero documents from a Freedom of Information Act request for information about American involvement, alleged by the Uzbek government during show trials following violence in Andijan, blamed on Islamist extremist terrorists, in May, 2005--an event that led to the closure of a US air base supporting the war effort in Afghanistan and expulsion of US military and NGO personnel. IMHO, it is continuing secrecy around this fiasco that has harmed US national security and prolonged the Afghan war. However, under current FOIA law, an Exemption 1 claim on the basis of national security permits a court to make a decision in secret, on the basis of secret evidence, after hearing from only one side. The plaintiff is neither permitted to see the evidence, nor to respond to claims made to the judge.

Well, IMHO the outcome of such an Alice-in-Wonderland process can't be termed a surprise. I'll be dealing with the issue of the unfairness of the concept of ex parte secret evidence in my book: Jarvik v CIA: The Story of A FOIA Case for Edward Mellen Press.  I think that public trials are the best way to fight against extremism and terrorism--not through secret military action or secret court procedures. The reason that the United States has failed to prevail since 9/11 is that our government has pursued a strategy of secrecy, that has--as in the case of Wall Street's "black box" hedge funds--incentivized corruption, incompetence, bankruptcy and failure.

It has also given rise to conspiracy theories, since even the facts of 9/11 have never been laid out in a court of law, as part of an open and public adversarial process. Secrecy breeds distrust.

The time has come for the American government to abandon secrecy, militarism and police-state tactics, and instead to try to the prescription of Justice Brandeis for dealing with international terrorism: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant." Urbina Decision 20100928[1]; Jarvik v. CIA; 9-28-2010; FOIA Case