GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- Once the war court revealed that a secret censor had silenced a defense lawyer arguing at hearings in the 9/11 case, the question became what other Guantánamo secrets was the military covering up?
How many hidden hands had the ability to censor the court by remote control? What intelligence agencies did they represent? Are they at this remote base or reaching into the court called Camp Justice from U.S. soil?
Were not going to get into the specifics of any security protocols, said Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, the Pentagons spokesman for the war court.
Up next at the death-penalty trials is whether U.S. intelligence agencies, or the military, are also listening in on defense lawyers confidential conversations. Accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his alleged four accomplices are back in court on Feb. 11, but defense lawyers want an emergency hearing on eavesdropping before Mondays pretrial hearings in the USS Cole bombing case.
Guantánamo, meantime, gives up its secrets slowly.
And in surprising ways like the 500-pound training bomb that Superstorm Sandy churned up in the bay in October.
It took the same storm to find out that the bases marina for troops taking a social sail off the coast of Cuba was valued at nearly $8.9 million. Sandy washed away its pier, along with six recreational sailboats. But the base still wont say whether it got money to buy new sailboats in Congress $50.5 billion Sandy bailout bill.
Now defense attorneys want to test the prison camps motto of safe, humane, legal and transparent detention with a 48-hour sleep-over at Guantánamos crown jewel of secrecy Camp 7. Thats the lockup where a clandestine unit called Task Force Platinum keeps the Sept. 11 accused and other men who were held for years in the CIAs overseas prisons.
You want to sleep with your client?, Judge James Pohl asked a defense lawyer on Tuesday, to the snickers of spectators.
Not with the client but nearby, said Navy Cmdr. Walter Ruiz, attorney for Mustafa Hawsawi, a Saudi man accused of helping the Sept. 11 hijackers with funding and travel to the United States.
Plus, Ruiz wants follow-up visits every six months.
In the military, harsh pre-trial conditions could create what lawyers call a mitigating factor as they argue against these men getting the death penalty if convicted of plotting the worst terror attack on U.S. soil. These defense lawyers say their clients were tortured in U.S. custody, and the Pentagon has lost the moral authority to execute them.
To gather evidence, the defenders want a two-night stay at the lockup and are asking Pohl to put a protective order on whats left of the black sites where the CIA waterboarded Mohammed 183 times and interrogated all five 9/11 accused before they got to Guantánamo in 2006.
Prosecutors countered with an offer of a two-hour escorted tour of Camp 7.
Its so secret that, outside the military, only members of Congress are known to tour it. In February 2009, a trio of members from Texas reported they got to peer through one-way glass to watch Mohammed inside a stark cell, kneeling on a prayer rug with head bowed.
But to this day the Pentagon wont divulge to taxpayers how much they paid to build it, what builder got the contract, or when.