The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] on Friday announced that media entities and other would-be observers will not be allowed to sit in on the first session of the Periodic Review Board (PRB), a parole-style hearing process for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder]. In 2011 US President Barack Obama [official website] issued an executive order [text; fact sheet] establishing the PRB process, which empowers authorities to review whether continued detention of certain detainees held at Guantanamo Bay remains necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to US national security. After working through the logistics, the PRBs were initiated, and the DOD announced that 71 detainees would go before the boards in pursuit of transfer or release from Guantanamo. The first PRB hearing is scheduled [Miami Herald report] for November 20 and involves 33-year-old captive Mahmud al Mujahid. Members of the media will not be allowed to observe the November hearing.
Controversy continues to surround Guantanamo military trials. Last month Military Judge James Pohl refused to suspend [JURIST report] the pretrial hearings. In February Pohl ordered the removal [JURIST report] of any monitoring system that censors the public broadcast of the 9/11 military commission hearings. He noted that only he and the court security officer have the authority to turn on or off the light that would make the courtroom closed to public. The order came a day after the DOD released an excerpt of the transcript from the missing few minutes based on another order issued earlier that week. In the same month, Pohl denied [JURIST report] a defense motion requesting a finding that the US constitution was "presumed to apply" in the proceedings and that the prosecution must bear the burden of proving that any particular provision did not apply. In January a US military judge upheld [JURIST report] a request to censor 9/11 conspirators' testimony. In September last year a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia rejected [JURIST report] new restrictions on lawyers representing Guantanamo Bay detainees who have had their habeas corpus challenges denied or dismissed.