The House of Representatives moved Friday to make military commissions held at Guantanamo Bay more transparent by paving the way for proceedings to be broadcast online.
An amendment potentially broadening the public’s access to the proceedings was included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act considered on Capitol Hill.
Offered by Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat, the measure authorizes military judges at Guantanamo Bay “to order arrangements for remote public viewing of the proceedings via internet.”
The amendment was passed by a voice vote and included in the version of the NDAA subsequently approved by the House.
Suspected terrorists have been held and tried at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since shortly following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, though several barriers have prevented the public from staying on top of the proceedings held there.
Relatives of 9/11 victims, members of the media and others wishing to watch the military commissions at Gitmo must travel to the island or one of a handful of domestic military bases where the proceedings are viewable on closed-circuit television.
Mr. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, introduced the amendment after a report he requested from the Government Accountability Office recommended that the military consider making the commissions available online.
“The military commissions at Guantanamo have been out of sight, and therefore out of mind, for far too long,” said Rep. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.”As Guantanamo nears its third decade, and with trials still years away, it is all the more important that victim’s families, the media and the public are able to follow the trials before the military commissions.
The version of the defense bill passed by the Democratic-controlled House was approved by a nearly party-line vote of 220-197.
Mr. Schiff applauded the amendment’s inclusion in the House bill and said he would push for it to appear in the final version considered by Congress.
The Republican-controlled Senate passed its own version of the NDAA last month without, and lawmakers will next need to reconcile both bills before coming up with a version to send to President Trump to sign.
The White House previously raised concerns with the House version of NDAA earlier in the week and said that Mr. Trump’s advisers would recommend he veto the bill in its current form.
Forty detainees are currently held at Guantanamo Bay, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others accused of involvement in the attacks.