Gitmo hearing: Terror suspects and defense attorneys wreak havoc

Jim Kouri by Jim Kouri on May 6th, 2012

This is article 15 of 27 in the topic GITMO

The five Guantanamo Bay detainees — including the notorious Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, wreaked havoc on Saturday when the suspects stubbornly refused to respond to the U.S. military judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, when he questioned the defendants, who then disrupted the proceedings, according to a federal law enforcement source.

Artist's sketch of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in military court on Saturday. Photo credit: DOD Military Commissions

At the same time, their defense attorneys attempted to put the court, the CIA and the United States on trial instead of the self-proclaimed jihadists.

During the chaotic hearing, the suspected al-Qaeda members’ defense attorneys began their strategy of questioning the legitimacy of the war crimes tribunal, telling Col. Pohl that the proceedings were not fair to their clients.

The attorneys were intent on discussing how the defendants were all held for more than three years in secret CIA prisons before being sent to Guantanamoin 2006, and all of them claimed they were tortured by interrogators.

The CIA had conceded that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the only prisoner of the five on trial to be subjected to harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding.

However, according to Fox News Channel’s National Security Correspondent Catherine Herridge, when the defense attorneys tried to discuss the way the defendants had been treated and used the word “torture” the CCTV (closed-circuit television) feed of the hearings for journalists and family members of victims was interrupted.

The judge reportedly became visibly upset with the defense lawyers when they repeatedly attempted to raise the torture issue.

“The brazen defense lawyers actually interrogated Judge Pohl about what he has read in the past. They also questioned his judicial experience and whether he, as a soldier, considered himself to be a victim of 9-11,” the federal law enforcement source said to the Law Enforcement Examiner.

According to the Office of Military Commissions, a small group of Americans whose relatives died in the 9-11 attacks were selected using a lottery and were flown to the Guantanamo Bay military installation to observe and listen to the legal proceedings from behind a glass wall.

Saturday’s military commission hearing held in a specially designed, top-security courtroom at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was the first public display of the alleged terrorists since 2009.

The five radical Muslims are charged with conspiring with the late Osama bin Laden, murder in violation of the laws of war, hijacking, terrorism and other charges stemming from the 2001 attacks that ultimately led to the United States invasion of Afghanistan and the global war against al-Qaeda, its allies, and its supporters.

“The decision to hold the trial of these five mass murderers in a military court was the best decision ever made by the Obama administration — at least once they stopped listening to Attorney General Eric Holder,” said former U.S. Marine and NYPD official Mike Snopes. “The military should be able to control the suspects and their attorneys and give them all a fair trial,” he said.

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