CIA Torture Allegation Becomes Dangerous Roadblock

( )- The drawn-out pretrial hearings of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Gitmo detainees got underway again on Tuesday. But within hours the hearing ran into yet another speed bump.

Tuesday’s hearing, for KSM, Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ammar al-Baluchi and Mustafa al Hawsawi was held at the courtroom of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base’s “Camp Justice” is the first hearing since the pandemic sidelined the military court. It marked the first court appearance for KSM in over a year. As yet, no trial date has been set, nor is any expected anytime soon.

While there are many factors for the multiple delays, the biggest, according to defense lawyers, is the secrecy.

It has taken years for defense lawyers to get summaries of the classified evidence against their clients. Even so, they say they still have not received everything they need – this despite the fact that every defense lawyer in the case possesses top-secret security clearances.

Defense lawyers say that the primary reason so much is shrouded in secrecy is because the government is still trying to hide the details of what happened to the defendants when they were held and tortured at so-called “CIA black sites” prior to being brought to Guantanamo.

According to James Connell, the lawyer for Ammar al Baluchi, the cover-up surrounding torture is the reason the defendants were brought to Guantanamo and the “continuing cover-up of torture” is the reason their detention there has been indefinite. Connell alleges that it is this cover-up of torture which is now delaying the trial.

In court papers, prosecutors are blaming the defense for the unending delays – claiming that defense lawyers have been filing motion-after-motion challenging a large portion of the evidence.

Though the prosecution hasn’t granted any interviews to the news media for years, Department of Defense prosecutors recently released a statement saying that they are committed to fairness and “reaching just outcomes to these cases.” Beyond that, the Department of Defense would not speculate on the military commission’s timeline.

At the rate this case is proceeding, some legal experts believe that there could be another decade of procedural hearings before the case ever comes to trial.