They are likewise gagged from discussing publicly even the most mundane aspect of what the captives tell them.
Everything is presumptively Top Secret. So if my client had a tuna fish sandwich for lunch, I couldnt tell you that, Cheryl Bormann, defense lawyer for alleged al Qaida lieutenant Walid bin Attash, told reporters after the May proceedings.
The other accused in the case are Mohammeds nephew, Ammar al Baluchi, 34, like his uncle a Pakistani citizen; Ramzi bin al Shibh, 40, like bin Attash, 34, a Yemeni described in the charge sheets as willing deputies to Mohammed and Mustafa al Hawsawi, 44, a Saudi man who allegedly helped move the money that financed the hijackers travel to the United States.
All were captured in Pakistan in 2002 and 2003 and hidden for years from the International Red Cross, whose mandate is to monitor treatment of prisoners around the globe. In 2006, President George W. Bush had these men moved to Guantánamo for trial.
The American Civil Liberties Union argues that it is Orwellian, preposterous for the U.S. government to subject the men to the detention regime and then say they cant talk publicly in court about what happened to them. Everyone but the accused was a willing participant in this chapter of U.S. history, yet they find themselves with the same gag order as most government employees with top secret clearances.
Attorneys for 14 media organizations, who like the ACLU will argue for openness at the court this week, argue that the public has a compelling interest in the case, as well as a constitutional right to access. If the judge closes portions, the so-called press objectors argue in their brief, he must explain in exacting detail what aspect of national security he is protecting.
(They are: ABC, Inc., Associated Press, Bloomberg News, CBS Broadcasting, Inc., Fox News Network, The Miami Herald and its parent McClatchy Co., National Public Radio, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Reuters, Tribune Company, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.)
Judge Pohl is hearing dozens of motions during the hearings, and may be able to act more swiftly and easily on some than others.
On the topic of attorney-client conversations, he has already over-ruled the prison camps commander in the capital case against a former CIA captive Abd al Rahim Nashiri, accused of the October USS Cole bombing that killed 17 U.S. sailors. And he has said he has the power to do so.
He has not said in court that he believes he has the authority to declassify information the government still stamps Top Secret including details that have already leaked into the public about the captives four-year detour to Guantánamo during the Bush years.