Here's a short excerpt from the beginning of the military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay from last Saturday 5 May, that is trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others. You can find this and other transcripts here .
Judging by this excruciatingly banal extract, this is going to be a long, drawn-out affair. The next hearing is due on 12 June.
(Note: MJ stand for Military Judge, DC for Defense Counsel.)
MJ [COL POHL]: Mr. Nevin, just to make sure, are you convinced that the translation in the earphones are working for Mr. Mohammad?
DC [MR. NEVIN]: No, sir, I'm not. And I ----
MJ [COL POHL]: To me, we would have to make sure that occurs first, correct? I'm not saying necessarily "you," I'm saying there are all sorts of people that can verify whether the earphones are working or not.
DC [MR. NEVIN]: Your Honor, I don't know. I appeared in the Military Commissions in 2008, and the translations were notoriously inaccurate and late and behind ----
MJ [COL POHL]: That is a different issue.
DC [MR. NEVIN]: I understand.
MJ [COL POHL]: If he doesn't understand something, that's fine. I want to make sure he is hearing me and making a choice not to respond.
DC [MR. NEVIN]: I understand, Your Honor.
MJ [COL POHL]: The only option I've got is for somebody to take the earphones off him and listen to it to make sure they are working okay, or you can propose another alternative.
DC [MR. NEVIN]: No, I don't have -- all I know is that I think Mr. Mohammad will decline to speak to the court or respond to the court.
MJ [COL POHL]: I got that. I want to make sure he is hearing the Commission. That is my question to you is that --is that I want to verify that he is hearing the translation.
DC [MR. NEVIN]: The record should reflect that Mr. Mohammad does not have earphones in his ears at this time; therefore, he is not listening to translation.
MJ [COL POHL]: The record should also reflect they were in his ears a minute ago and he chose to take them off.
DC [MR. NEVIN]: Yes, I think they were in, I don't know, about a minute ago, Your Honor.
MJ [COL POHL]: Do you wish to speak to your client, see whether or not he wishes to put the earphones in?
DC [MR. NEVIN]: No, sir, I don't, thank you. If the court is asking me to, I will.
MJ [COL POHL]: No, it is your choice.
DC [MR. NEVIN]: Yes, sir.
MJ [COL POHL]: But here is where we are going to go down on this, Mr. Nevin, is if he refuses to listen to the earphones, refuses to answer me -- I will ask him one more time in English; if he understands English and refuses to answer me, I will assume he is making a choice not to answer. Then we will go to the default.
DC [MR. NEVIN]: Do what, Your Honor?
MJ [COL POHL]: We will go to default elections.
DC [MR. NEVIN]: Could the court describe what that ----
MJ [COL POHL]: Yes. He gets detailed counsel, learned counsel, and he gets to enter a plea of not guilty with the defaults.
DC [MR. NEVIN]: The court would enter a plea and cause him to waive ----
MJ [COL POHL]: No, no, no, not today.
DC [MR. NEVIN]: That would be deferred?
MJ [COL POHL]: Not today. I'm simply saying one cannot choose not to participate and frustrate the normal course of business. That is all I'm saying. If Mr. Mohammad or any of the accused choose not to respond to my questions about elections of counsel, which is the first step, then we go to, as I said, the default counsel mode.
Eventually, if he refuses to enter a plea, when we get to that point, then the same thing happens; a plea of not guilty is entered on his behalf.
DC [MR. NEVIN]: Your Honor, I take it Mr. Mohammad has the right to remain silent and not respond to the court's questions.
MJ [COL POHL]: He can choose to do that as long as he understands the ramifications. But if he refuses to respond to my question and refuses to put the earphones on so he can hear a translation of my questions, then he is making a choice to be uninformed potentially from the Commission.
But, again, he can have that choice, but he does not have a choice that would frustrate this Commission going forward. Are you with me on this?
DC [MR. NEVIN]: No ----
MJ [COL POHL]: You have a furrowed brow. That's why ----
DC [MR. NEVIN]: I understand what Your Honor is saying. Mr. Mohammad may or may not have a particular intention with respect to pursuing the default, going to the default elections and so on. And I can't, I simply -- I don't know whether that is his intention. I understand what the court is saying.
MJ [COL POHL]: He has a choice. He can participate and make his elections, or he can choose not to participate and elections will be made for him. That is his choice.
DC [MR. NEVIN]: Right. I understand that, Your Honor.
MJ [COL POHL]: Okay. Okay. Now, does he want to put the earphones back on?
DC [MR. NEVIN]: I doubt it.
MJ [COL POHL]: Would you ask him?
DC [MR. NEVIN]: Yes, sir.
[The security classification button was pushed in the
courtroom which caused the video feed to terminate at 0948, 5 May 2012.]