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It must be more than national security that the Army wants to hide

Army Murder Hearing Halted Over Access, (LATimes):

An Army appeals court stopped a hearing Friday for soldiers charged with killing an Iraqi general during an interrogation and ordered the military to explain why the proceedings have been closed to the public.

The Army Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay sought by The Denver Post on the second day of the hearing at Ft. Carson, an Army post 70 miles south of Denver.

On Thursday, hearing officer Capt. Robert Ayers closed all of the proceedings to the public, citing national security. He also said publicity might jeopardize the safety of the defendants, some of whom were assigned to military intelligence units.

But the appeals court gave Ayers 10 days to show why nonclassified portions of the hearing should not be open.

Ft. Carson officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Four soldiers are charged with murder and dereliction of duty in the death of Iraqi Air Force Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, who investigators say was suffocated last year. The soldiers could get life in prison without parole if convicted.

The hearing is being held to determine whether the soldiers should stand trial.

Legal analysts said it was extremely rare for a military preliminary hearing to be closed to the public, and appeals courts frown on such decisions.

Media attorney Steve Zansberg had asked Ayers to close only portions of the hearing that could threaten national security.

‘This is information the American people are profoundly and legitimately interested in knowing,’ he said.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding