WAR COURT

Guantánamo prosecutors: How did KSM 'propaganda' document get out?

 
 
Alleged al Qaida kingpin Khalid Sheik Mohammed posed for this photo in July 2009, at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It was taken by the International Committee of the Red Cross to be sent home for Ramadan, and first showed up on Arabic language websites seen as sympathetic to al Qaida. It was the first known public photograph since his widely circulated March 2003 capture photo of him rousted from sleep in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
Alleged al Qaida kingpin Khalid Sheik Mohammed posed for this photo in July 2009, at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It was taken by the International Committee of the Red Cross to be sent home for Ramadan, and first showed up on Arabic language websites seen as sympathetic to al Qaida. It was the first known public photograph since his widely circulated March 2003 capture photo of him rousted from sleep in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
International Committee of the Red Cross

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Prosecution letter

Here is the full text of the prosecution letter to Sept. 11 victims distributed on March 7.

Dear 9/11 Families,

In your recent communications with us, many of you have expressed frustration at the pace of our progress in the prosecution of this case. Karen Loftus, our Director of Victim Witness Assistance, forwards many of your emails to us, and briefs us regarding your concerns. The entire 9/11 Prosecution Team hears you and we believe you deserve a detailed response.

In a motion filed on 14 June 2013, the Prosecution asked the Military Judge for a trial scheduling order to set deadlines for defense motions and hold month-long hearings in order to expedite the pace of the proceedings so that the Prosecution’s case-in-chief could begin in September 2014. The Defense opposed our request and argued that the Military Judge should refrain from setting a trial date until other preliminary matters are addressed by the Commission. The Military Judge has not yet ruled on our request.

In December, the Prosecution felt it was necessary to request a mental competency evaluation be conducted by doctors for one of the five accused in the case who had been disruptive in court and removed from the proceedings on various occasions. Because this case is a joint trial where all five accused are being prosecuted together at the same time, the Military Judge ruled at that time that no other matters could occur in court for any of the five accused until the mental competency of the one accused was resolved. In January, following the doctor’s mental competency evaluation, the Prosecution requested the Military Judge hold a mental competency hearing at the hearings already scheduled in April to give both parties an opportunity to prepare. The first several days of the April hearing will focus on the mental competency of the accused, and then, if resolved, the case will proceed with previously docketed defense motion arguments.

Regrettably, the time that will need to be taken to ensure the mental competency hearing is legally resolved means that it is very unlikely that we will obtain our requested 22 September 2014 trial request. Nevertheless, we will continue to urge the Military Judge to set deadlines that will allow us to fairly and efficiently litigate pre-trial motions and proceed to trial without any additional unnecessary delay. We have attached the most recent scheduling order so you can be kept abreast of the next scheduled pre-trial sessions in the case.

You have also voiced concerns about the ability of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad to communicate directly to the public with the release of his 36-page letter, published by the Huffington Post. We filed an emergency motion on Monday, March 3rd that addresses this issue and requests the Military Judge to inquire of the Defense as to how this letter was released, and to take action to ensure that the Commission process cannot be used to inappropriately disseminate propaganda. We have asked that this matter be taken up immediately following resolution of the mental competency matter.

We appreciate the frustration that you feel, we hear you, and we ask you to continue to communicate honestly and directly with us. Be assured that the 9/11 Prosecution Team is still working day and night in the pursuit of justice for your loved ones and will see this prosecution through to the end.

Brigadier General Mark Martins, Chief Prosecutor

Edward Ryan, Dept. of Justice (DOJ), Trial Counsel

Robert Swann, COL (Retired), Trial Counsel

Jeffrey Groharing, DOJ, Deputy Trial Counsel

Clay Trivett, DOJ, Managing Deputy Trial Counsel

Ms. Joanna Bates, DOJ, Deputy Trial Counsel

MAJ Joshua Kirk, JAGC, USMC

LT Kiersten Korczynski, JAGC, USN

Capt Michael Lebowitz, JAGC, USA

Ms. Nicole Tate, Dept. of Defense (DoD), Assistant Trial Counsel

Ms. Danielle Tarin, DoD, Assistant Trial Counsel


crosenberg@MiamiHerald.com

The war court prosecutor has asked the Sept. 11 judge to investigate how Huffington Post and a British television station got a copy of some commentary by the alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

The emergency motion itself was still under seal Tuesday at the war court website. But Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins and his fellow 10 prosecutors divulged its contents in a correspondence to Sept. 11 victims’ family members distributed by the Pentagon’s victims liaison, Karen Loftus.

​In January, The Huffington Post and Britain's Channel​ 4 published 36 pages of computer printout commentary — much of it invoking religious themes — on a range of religious and social topics attributed to Mohammed.

In it, the author quotes the Koran, Richard Nixon and the Bible and offers a range of opinions on current events — from same-sex marriage, which he opposes, to the U.S. military suicide rate, which he blames on conspicuous U.S. consumption in impoverished Afghanistan.

It was dated in October and apparently written at Guantánamo’s secret prison for former CIA captives, from which little news emerges. The copy posted by Huffington Post bore no markings to indicate the document was secret although page 7 appears to have a self-styled redaction, a white-out strip or piece of surgical tape that could be covering up a name.

While the judge in the case has ruled that not everything a former CIA captive says is necessarily classified, their writings and lawyers’ motions are considered classified until an intelligence agency decides which portions to black out.

At the prison, a spokesman, Navy Cmdr. John Filsotrat, said he was “unaware” of any internal investigation by detention center staff into how the document came to light.

But separately the 9/11 judge, Army Col. James Pohl, may have the authority to investigate whether the disclosure violates a protective order on the release of information in the trial of Mohammed and four co-defendants. The five men are accused of orchestrating the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000 people, and the Pentagon prosecutor seeks their execution if they are convicted.

The prosecutor said the still-sealed emergency motion, filed March 3, asks the judge “to inquire of the Defense as to how this letter was released, and to take action to ensure that the Commission process cannot be used to inappropriately disseminate propaganda.”

The Sept. 11 trial is currently in the pretrial phase with the judge still hearing fundamental issues on what part of the Constiution might apply at the war court here, how much of the trial will be held in secret or argued through substitutions for classified evidence and how much evidence the defense teams can actually obtain.

Pohl brought the hearings to a halt in December at the request of the prosecution to clarify whether one of the alleged plotters, Ramzi bin al Shibh of Yemen, is mentally competent to stand trial. He repeatedly disrupted the last round of hearings with accusations that U.S. troops were causing noises and vibrations in his secret prison cell in a sleep-deprivation campaign.

The next hearings are scheduled for four days in April to tackle the question of Bin al Shibh’s competency because, although his lawyers argue he’s competent, the Yemeni has refused to submit to a military mental health exam.

The prosecution denies that the troops are intentionally disrupting Bin al Shibh’s sleep patterns at Camp 7.

“We have asked that this matter be taken up immediately following resolution of the mental competency matter,” Martins wrote.

Martins’ letter to the Sept. 11 families also acknowledged that the sanity issue derailed the current proposed prosecution timetable of a Sept. 22 trial date.

At Huffington Post, reporter Ryan Reilly, who reported on the document, said nobody from the government or prison had ever asked his news organization how the document was obtained.

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Miami Herald

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