"The government wants a protective order prohibiting the release of material from CIA "black sites," the secret prisons where the defendants were held before being moved to Guantanamo Bay in 2006. Defense lawyers complain that in addition to hampering them at trial, the restrictions block them from even discussing those events with their clients, including (Khalid Sheikh) Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times.
The issue is crucial to both sides. Prosecutors do not want trial jurors hearing about torture or other "enhanced interrogation techniques," and argue it would be a "sideshow" distracting from whether the defendants are guilty of conspiracy and terrorism in the 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
But defense lawyers said that restriction would severely handicap them in strategizing on how best to defend the clients in the capital murder trial, tentatively scheduled to begin in May.
"They're holding our clients in isolation," said an exasperated Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Bogucki, an attorney for Ramzi Binalshibh, who allegedly managed the terrorist cell that carried out the plane attacks at the Pentagon and in New York and Pennsylvania.
Cheryl Bormann, a lawyer for Walid bin Attash, an alleged Al Qaeda training camp steward, was equally frustrated with limited access to her client in the heavily guarded prison.
"He can't call me to say he's sick," she said. "We can't write to our clients. Now on top of it I have additional rules, and this protective order is completely unnecessary. It would be creating more difficulties.""
|KSM's approved camo jacket|
However, at the same hearing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed won the right to wear a camouflage jacket at his trial in Guantanamo Bay. (For my previous coverage of this issue, look here.) Judge Pohl yesterday stated that while the Guantanamo Bay commanders can determine what the 9/11 mastermind wears inside the prison, the court can determine what he wears whilst present at the court.