Saturday, December 17, 2011

Politico covers my FOIA suit against the Army

In his coverage today of the court-martial of Army PFC Bradley Manning, Politico reporter and Freedom of Information Act expert Josh Gerstein reports on my FOIA lawsuit this spring against the Army. Here my story fit into the larger context of the Army's continued refusal to release documents related to its administration of justice—documents that would otherwise be available for public inspection were the accused before a civilian court.

The text pertinent to my lawsuit appears below:

When Siobhan Esposito, the wife of an Army Captain who was apparently murdered in his office in Iraq in 2005 asked for the official record of the public court martial where her husband's alleged killer was acquitted, the Army eventually released a partial transcript of the proceedings, but deleted the names, grades, duty positions and other identifying information of Army personnel "below the office director level" including the name of the military judge, the attorneys in the case and witnesses. The deletions were made even though the court martial, held at Fort Bragg, N.C., was open to the public and anyone in the room could have heard and written down the allegedly private details.

“It was crazy…..It was like something right out of the Marx Brothers," Fidell recalled.

Fidell filed suit in January of this year on Esposito's behalf. A couple of months later, the Army agreed to provide the widow with a full transcript of the open sessions of the court martial, with only the street address of one witness deleted. The Army also agreed to pay $2500 for the legal fees incurred in filing the case.