The appointment of Brig. General Mark Martins as chief prosecutor of the military commissions, as Jack and I discussed here and here, is a step of enormous importance in establishing legitimacy for a commissions process that has floundered almost since the date of its inception. It is not the first such step. Putting the commissions in statute, both in 2006 and in 2009, created an essential legal foundation for them. Martins now adds leadership. But if the commissions process is to gain traction, there is more to be done on the legitimacy side. In this post, I would like to propose some low-hanging fruit: The commissions need an injection of radical transparency.
Formally, the commissions process is pretty open. The press can attend commission proceeding–and many press outlets do send reporters. Informally, however, the commissions are less open to scrutiny and observation. The reason is two-fold: geography and bad information policy. Both problems are entirely addressable.