Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – The mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, spoke at his Guantanamo Bay, Cuba trial today. When asked if he understood his rights KSM told the judge, “I don’t think there is any justice in this court.”
Many experts following this case did not know if KSM would disrupt court proceedings or remain absolutely silent. During the trial proceedings the most wanted terrorist sat quietly in the courtroom, simply staring into space.
Along with defense and prosecution attorneys, national media members; nine victims’ family members were attending the motion hearings at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba detention facility.
The two main topics for the morning agenda included the defense’s argument that rat droppings and the presence of mold in their military-provided offices are inhibiting the defense’s ability to adequately defend their clients. The claim states many members of the defense team have been subjected to allergies and flu-like systems that can cause long-term health problems, according to experts solicited by the defense.
Chief Judge Army Col. James Pohl said he would only hear the matter after the defense filed the proper paperwork and presented it to the court. The judge quickly shifted to the next motion concerning a waiver for detainees to have the ability to skip daily attendance requirements.
The defense attorney’s argued that their clients, the alleged terrorists, would like to retain the option of not attending all courtroom proceedings.
Video of KSM defense team briefing the media:
James Harrington, defense attorney for Ramzi Binal Shibh, said the mandatory attendance for the court proceedings might cause undue duress with the detention camp transfer process and the hearings may cause the detainees to be reminded of unpleasant images or memories.
After lunch, KSM defense attorney Air Force Capt. Michael Schwartz challenged the judge’s disposition of defendants’ motion regarding appearance waivers. The captain sparred with the judge over the need to discuss torture.
Finally, Pohl adamantly replied: “We’re done with that argument.”
The contentious five-minute back and forth centered on the relevance that torture plays regarding the defendant’s case. Pohl hammered the captain over and over and finally asked him to leave the podium or make another point on behalf of his client.
Schwartz wrapped up his plea with: “The government is asking you to break the rules, you don’t have to.”
The government only wants the “appearance of justice,” he said and walked back to his defense table.
After a 30-minute recess the judge ruled in favor of the detainees and said they would have the ability to skip tribunal hearings if they filled out official daily waivers notifying the court they knew their rights, and chose not to physically attend the proceedings. “There’s no pride in authorship with this document,” said Pohl.
After numerous in court discussions, the judge said he wanted to make it clear that the proceedings would continue in the event of the alleged terrorists’ absence.
Pohl asked each accused terrorist if they understood his ruling. He reiterated the fact that he did not believe the detainees were going to escape the detention facility, but if they left the detention facility the tribunal would continue without their presence. This sparked the attention of all the detainees an instance of this would be if KSM were transferred to another location for medical reasons.
KSM said to the judge he understood the attendance waiver but said, “I don’t think there is any justice in this court.”
The defense attorneys plan to argue the information obtained from torture administered at the CIA black sites is inadmissible in court and therefore the government’s case is invalid.
“It’s a way in which the government can hide what it did to these men during the period of detention by the CIA,” Army Capt. Jason Wright, a military appointed attorney for KSM said. “I think we need to bring the truth to the light of day on these issues.”
Army Brig. Gen. Mark A. Martins, the chief prosecutor said it was up to the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and the government was not in the business of “trials by ambush.”
The government’s work is worthy and justice is not a popularity contest, said the graduate of Harvard Law School and former aide to Army Gen. David H. Petraeus in Iraq.
The five terrorists, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Binal Shibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi are charged with allegedly attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, murder in violation of the law of war, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, hijacking or hazarding a vessel, or aircraft, terrorism, and conspiracy in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks.