Secrecy Appealed

A South Florida waiter who was detained in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck in Miami and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals abused their discretion by sealing his case without explanation.

But in an unusual move, the public copy of Mohamed Kamel Bellahouel's petition to the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari is heavily censored, with entire pages blanked out. A complete copy, plus attachments, was filed under seal for the justices' eyes alone. Still, the filing by the federal public defender's office in Miami is the first public acknowledgement by any federal court of Bellahouel's habeas corpus case. . . .

[T]he lower courts, the petition said, have gone to great lengths to hide the "essential fact" that Bellahouel's case even exists -- including keeping the existence of the case off the public court dockets. But, it said, "the facts of the petitioner's case would make a significant contribution to the national debate about the detention and treatment of Middle Eastern persons. There is no legitimate government interest [in] permitting court-suppression of his ordeal."

Hopefully, Mr. Bellahouel's petition will result in some reasonable limitations on the government's apparently boundless power to deprive us of our civil rights. has the full story here.