Public Could be Shut Out from 9/11 Trial

Saturday, January 10, 2009

In advance of the upcoming Guantánamo trial of six 9/11 conspirators, military judge Stephen R. Henley issued a protective order on December 19th which will allow classification of any information, including that already in the public domain, that in any way refers to a host of U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, FBI, and the State Department. The expansive order not only retains the secretive status of previously classified documents, but also has the power to stifle any mention of U.S. intelligence agencies and their actions, and any statements by the defendants themselves.   Under the order, it will be impossible to corroborate CIA chief Michael Hayden’s admittance that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the attacks, was subjected to water torture. Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch, commented “ These rules turn the presumption of openness on its head, making what is perhaps the most important trial in American history presumptively closed to the public and the press….These five men are known to have been tortured and severely mistreated during their years in CIA custody, including the acknowledged waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The claims of torture should be investigated rather than concealed.” In a recent deliberation which may signal a change of heart, on Monday the judge asked counsel on both sides to file briefs on whether the order expands “the definition of ‘classified information’ and the scope of protective orders generally beyond that provided for in the [Military Commissions Act] and other applicable legal authority.”



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