War court

Train derailment cuts internet to Guantánamo, delays 9/11 hearing



A train derailment in Maryland cut internet service between the war court compound here and the Pentagon on Tuesday, forcing a day’s delay of pretrial hearings in the Sept. 11 terror case.

The delay came as Guantánamo visitors, notably reporters living in a tent city called Camp Justice, began watching National Hurricane Center reports of Tropical Storm Isaac, which threatens to drench the base by the weekend.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers for accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four alleged accomplices had been traveling to the base since last week and were making final preparations for court when they found themselves knocked off the internet before dawn Tuesday. Even the Pentagon’s chief war crimes prosecutor, an Army brigadier general, lost service. It was being restored in phases Tuesday afternoon.

In between, Navy Cmdr. Walter Ruiz, lawyer for Saudi defendant Mustafa al Hawsawi, characterized the outage as the latest resource challenge to the Sept. 11 defense teams. “This network breakdown is drastically interrupting preparations for the coming week’s hearing,” Ruiz wrote in a statement that he had delivered on paper to the Camp Justice press room because his internet service was down.

Army Col. James Pohl, the judge, granted an emergency motion to delay the start of six days of hearings until 9 a.m. Thursday. The hearings were supposed to start on Wednesday.

The source of the outage was a train derailment near Baltimore that killed two teenage girls, said Navy Capt. Robert Durand, spokesman for the detention center, which is responsible for the war court infrastructure. All internet links from Guantánamo Bay move through two satellite dishes on the base that beam signals to downlink locations in Maine and Maryland, Durand said. “The train derailment damaged the fiber-optic line in Maryland.”

The Navy plans to lay an undersea fiber-optic cable from the base to South Florida in coming years.

Read more Guantánamo stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category