Connell’s client, Pakistani Ammar al Baluchi, affected an air of disinterest, leafing through a magazine. During a recess, he handed it to Saudi co-defendant Mustafa al Hawsawi, 43, who like Baluchi is accused of wiring money to the hijackers.
Criticism didn’t come from only the defense attorneys. Retired Rear Adm. Donald Guter, the Navy’s top lawyer on Sept. 11, 2001, declared Sunday, “I am convinced more than ever that this belongs in federal court.” He came to Guantánamo to watch the proceedings for Human Rights First, as a critic of commissions.
It wasn’t just the 13-hour proceeding that ended with a reading of the charges that discomfited critics but also the tug-of-war over fundamental issues — from prison camp conditions to restrictions on communications between the accused and their defenders. Hawsawi’s attorney, Navy Cmdr. Walter Ruiz, struggled throughout the arraignment to get the judge to hear arguments on why the defense is hobbled by limited resources, and why the case should be dismissed as improper.
Pohl said he’d address those issues at the next hearing June 12-15. He stuck to a script of approving the legal teams, then taking questions from the defense teams about his background and potential conflicts at trials. The defense lawyers postponed until later whether they would challenge the judge’s ability to preside at the first capital trials of his career.
Pohl sought to waive the reading of the 87-page charge sheet, but Bin Attash asked for them it be read, a single defendant’s prerogative, extending the arraignment into the night.
“The participants were raced up to the coliseum for the pleasure of the masters,” Ruiz told reporters bitterly on Sunday morning.