MICHELE NORRIS, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED form NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.
ANDREA SEABROOK, host:
And I'm Andrea Seabrook.
In Norfolk, Virginia, today, Navy lawyers began a trial for one of their own. Matt Diaz is accused of leaking classified information to a civilian human rights lawyer. He gave the names of 550 detainees in Guantanamo to an attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from the Norfolk Naval base.
ARI SHAPIRO: The prosecutor set the scene for the jury. January 2, 2005, Lieutenant Commander Matt Diaz sat in his office at Guantanamo Bay late at night. He wasn't working on anything for the United States government, the prosecutor said. It was his own project. Diaz logged into his classified computer and called up a spreadsheet: 39 pages containing the names of all 550 detainees at the prison camp, along with their serial numbers, nationalities and more.
The prosecutor stood in front of the jury and held up a Valentine's Day card with a picture of a droopy-eyed Chihuahua. The accused cut the document so the nation's secrets would fit inside this card, he said. Diaz dropped it in the mail on the last day of his six-month assignment at Guantanamo.
The defense team acknowledges that Diaz sent that Valentine to Barbara Olshansky, a civilian human rights lawyer. But the defense lawyer told the jury, Diaz did not send classified information — even if the government intended to classify it. They say that because the document was not marked secret, it was not classified.
That's one half of the defense's argument the other half is about intent. For Diaz to be guilty of the crime, he has to have intended to harm the United States or advantage another country. His lawyers say Matt Diaz had no such intent.
Defense lawyers had a tough time getting that argument across. Lieutenant Justin Henderson frankly acknowledge at the beginning of his opening statement that he was the most junior officer in the room. He asked the jury to forgive him if his voice crack, saying, I'm nervous. Roughly two sentences into Henderson's opening statement, the prosecutor raised an objection. That started a patter that lasted all morning. Everyone one on the courtroom stood and sat as the jury was excused and brought back in for objection after objection. More often than not, the judge sided with the government in those exchanges.
The first witness was Barbara Olshansky, the human rights lawyer who received the Valentine from Diaz. She heaved a big sigh as she walked to the front of the courtroom and she looked uncomfortable sitting at the witness stand answering questions instead of standing up and asking them.
Olshansky said that when she got the Valentine, she didn't know what the document was. There was no indication that the spreadsheet came from the government. But the postmark was from Guantanamo, so she wondered whether the names were detainees.
The roster is public now, but it wasn't two years ago. Olshansky had been asking the government for the names and the Pentagon had been resisting. Olshansky wanted to know who they were so she could name them in her lawsuit on the detainees' behalf. Olshansky testified that she didn't know the information was secret, but she gave it to the judge overseeing her detainee lawsuit. It then went to court security personnel, who conducted an investigation.
After fingerprint and computer analysis, the arrows pointed to the 41 year old navy lawyer who's now on trial.
Ari Shapiro, NPR News, at the Naval station inn north of Virginia.