Friday, September 30, 2016

Cameranesi v. US DOD (9th Cir. - Sept. 30, 2016)

Panel draws matter.

The issue here is whether the public should be permitted under FOIA to view the names of students at the School of the Americas (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation).

The majority says that they shouldn't, because even though some torturers and human rights abusers attend the school, or go on to commit such offenses after graduating, we should trust that the Army follows the law and effectively screens out such people, and there's a risk that disclosing the names of these students might put them at risk.

The dissent says that the public should be allowed access to this information, because the public has a legitimate interest in seeing whether the Army's screening process -- and the stuff it teaches in class -- is effective in protecting human rights, and there's no substantial support for the theory that anyone will be at risk if the names are disclosed (as they were for years previously).

The majority opinion is written by Judge Ikuta and joined by Judge Kleinfeld.

The dissent is written by Judge Watford.

I can think of dozens -- indeed,hundreds -- of alternate panel compositions in which I'm fairly confident the result would have come out the other way.