Oct 16, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
(Daily Mail) – The sister of one of the pilots whose plane was hijacked on September 11th said that it is outrageous that the military judge ruled in the terror suspects favor by allowing them to wear camouflage clothing inside the courtroom.
‘This judge has to grow a backbone,’ Debra Burlingame told MailOnline.
The leeway that the judge granted the accused terrorists comes during the second day of the pretrial decisions in the case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the hijacked plane attacks and his four alleged al Qaeda conspirators.
The request for the different dress code comes as the men want to portray themselves as soldiers during the trial- a move that Ms Burlingame says shows that their intention is to promote their violent cause.
‘They are trying to use their situation to rally jihadists around the world and that puts American troops in danger,’ she said.
‘If these defendants were members of the Klu Klux Klan and they were on trial for killing a black family, for burning their house, would they be allowed to wear their Klan uniforms in court to show their solidarity with their fellow Klan members? Absolutely not!
(Wall Street Journal) – GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba—Khalid Sheikh Mohammed may wear a guerrilla’s camouflage clothing at his trial for the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, a military judge ruled Tuesday. He rejected government arguments that such attire was inappropriate and could cause security guards to mistake the bushy-bearded al Qaeda leader for a U.S. serviceman.
Mr. Mohammed and four co-defendants face capital charges for killing 2,976 people through hijacked jetliners that were crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. They are to be tried before a military commission here, after the Obama administration bowed to political pressure and abandoned plans to prosecute the men in U.S. federal court for such civilian offenses as murder and hijacking.
A ruling Tuesday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacating a guilty verdict in the first contested military commissions case, against Salim Hamdan, former driver for Osama bin Laden, wasn’t expected to significantly affect the Sept. 11 trial. The circuit court found that the offense for which Mr. Hamdan was convicted, material support for terrorism, wasn’t a recognized war crime at the time he worked for bin Laden. Therefore, he couldn’t be tried before a military commission, which has jurisdiction only over war crimes.
In contrast, several offenses alleged against the Sept. 11 defendants, including attacking civilians, were considered war crimes when they were committed.
As a result, “this is a prosecution based on the laws of war,” a defense attorney, Capt. Jason Wright, said at Tuesday’s pretrial hearing. Mr. Mohammed indeed was a combatant, he said, and actually fought for the U.S. in its “proxy war” against the communist government that ruled Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s.
Mr. Mohammed belonged to the mujahedeen militias the U.S. financed to overthrow the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul, said Capt. Wright. “Mr. Mohammed wore a uniform,” he said, recognized by the Geneva Convention as appropriate for paramilitary or organized resistance forces.
Mr. Mohammed’s attorneys filed a motion they said documented Mr. Mohammed’s role, but it was filed under seal pending review for classified information. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Mr. Mohammed claimed that he “fought the Soviets and remained at the front for three months before being summoned to perform administrative duties.” By the mid-1990s, however, he was involved in terrorism and being sought by U.S. authorities, the report adds.
The defense lawyers cited that past in arguing that Mr. Mohammed should be allowed to wear camouflage clothing in the courtroom. Military prosecutors said civilian-court precedents required the judge to defer to the prison warden’s judgment regarding treatment of inmates.
A prosecutor, Maj. Josh Kirk, cited an April decision by the Supreme Court upholding the authority of county jails to require all inmates, even those arrested for minor nonviolent offenses, to submit to strip-searches. Maj. Kirk said the defendants could exploit the “communicative nature” of clothing should they be permitted to dress as they pleased. He noted that some civilian courts have barred defendants from wearing gang colors.
“You lost me there on the connection between clothing and propaganda,” replied the military judge, Col. James Pohl. He said it was absurd to fret that Mr. Mohammed could win his case by wearing a camouflage hunting vest.
The judge also dismissed fears military guards would mistake the al Qaeda figure for a U.S. soldier or that they would be unable to restrain him should he disrupt proceedings while wearing too many layers of clothing or a garment with pockets.
“Look around the room. How many guards do you see?” he told prosecutors. The high-security courtroom was lined with armed guards.
Ultimately, Col. Pohl ruled the defendants could wear what they wished to court, other than a U.S. military uniform or certain prison jumpsuits.
Later Tuesday, arguments were to begin over the degree of secrecy the government can impose over the proceedings. Prosecutors seek to keep secret details of the brutal interrogations the defendants underwent while in Central Intelligence Agency custody prior to their transfer to Guantanamo in 2006. Defense lawyers seek more access to that information, as do attorneys for news organizations, including Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Defense attorney objections to their office space at Guantanamo, which they contend is contaminated with mold and rodent droppings, were to be argued Wednesday.