When a military judge ruled last month that Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, could be tried for war crimes, the first footnote in his July 14 opinion (pdf) was to a Congressional Research Service report. (Hamdan was convicted yesterday for material support of terrorism.)
But Military Judge Keith J. Allred, lacking an official source for the CRS analysis by Jennifer K. Elsea (with which he ultimately differed), provided a link instead (see footnote 1 on page 3) to a copy of the document on the Federation of American Scientists web site.
By doing so, the Judge simultaneously highlighted the centrality of such CRS analyses to public discourse and the strange fact that these official documents are still not approved for direct release to the public.
Perhaps he also implicitly affirmed that FAS and other public interest publishers of CRS collections are helping to compensate for that continuing policy defect by providing the online access to CRS reports that Congress has denied.