About the 9/11 war crimes trial
The learned counsel, death-penalty case experienced defense attorneys, from left: David Nevin for Khalid Sheik Mohammed; Cheryl Bormann for Walid bin Attash; James Harrington for Ramzi bin al Shibh; James G. Connell III for Ammar al Baluchi, also called Ali Abd al Aziz Ali; Cmdr. Walter Ruiz for Mustafa al Hawsawi. Also assigned are Marine Corps Maj. Derek Poteet, Army Maj. Jason D. Wright and civilian attorney Gary Sowards for Mohammed; Air Force Capt. Michael Schwartz and Navy Reserves Lt. Cmdr. James Hatcher, Capt. Todd Swensen, for Bin Attash; Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Bogucki, Navy Cmdr Tri Nhan and Marine Maj. Mark Balfantz for Bin al Shibh and Air Force Lt. Col. Sterling Thomas for Baluchi.
The Pentagon prosecutors are charging 2,976 counts of murder in their conspiracy charge sheet and the Defense Department has created three ways to show their families what's going on at their trials at Guantánamo. A retired Navy captain, Karen Loftus, runs a prosecution division that gives them news updates, provided they meet the Defense Department definition of a victim -- spouse, parent, sibling or child of someone killed in the attack. That status lets them sign on to a special portal built into the war court's website, and also gets victims access to four viewing centers at military bases on the Eastern Seaboard -- in New York City, New Jersey, Massachusetts and outside Washington DC. Registered victims are also eligible for a lottery that chooses five people to travel to each Guantánamo war court hearing as guests of the Pentagon with distinguished visitors privileges. Each can bring a fellow traveler along, gratis too.
On Sept. 6, 2006, President Bush disclosed the transfer of the defendants to Guantánamo and urged legislative approval for the trials: "As soon as Congress acts to authorize the military commissions I have proposed, the men our intelligence officials believe orchestrated the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, can face justice."
The court has its own website, built by the Department of Defense beginning in 2010 with a $487,369 development contract. Its motto is "Fairness * Transparency * Justice." Intelligence agencies control the release of the pleadings, decisions and orders. Lawyers, and even the judge, file their documents with a special military commissions clerk who withholds them from the public while various government agencies get up to 15 Pentagon calendar business days to black out portions or all of the documents before they are posted at the website. Other pockets of the website link to video of Pentagon press conferences related to the war crimes trials and a guide to the office spaces arrayed around the tent and trailer park compound.