Guantánamo

Special Delivery: Alleged 9/11 plotter’s letter reaches White House

Khalid Sheik Mohammed's attorney discusses the letter the alleged 9/11 mastermind wrote Obama

In an Aug. 14, 2014 news conference at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Khalid Sheik Mohammed's attorney, David Nevin, discusses the letter that Mohammed sent to President Obama.
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In an Aug. 14, 2014 news conference at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Khalid Sheik Mohammed's attorney, David Nevin, discusses the letter that Mohammed sent to President Obama.

A 2014 letter addressed to Barack Obama from the man accused of orchestrating the 9/11 terror attacks has arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., a White House source said Monday.

There was no immediate word on whether the president had read the letter and what, if any, reaction he had to it.

Read more about the judge’s order, the controversy here.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed, 51, is at Guantánamo awaiting a death-penalty trial as the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, at the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field. He wrote to Obama in 2014 about “Muslim oppression at the hands of the West in general and the United States in particular,” his lawyer David Nevin said then. He also shares his views on what happened in Iraq during the period of U.S. sanctions and “events in Palestine and Gaza over the years.”

But the prison declined to deliver it. Then on Jan. 6, Mohammed’s judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, ordered prosecutors to get it to the departing president at least a week before Donald Trump takes office. Obama steps down Friday, and should be able to take the letter with him into private life.

Pohl ruled there was no “legal basis for continued sealing of the letter’s contents” but gave the prison an extra month to scrub it of sensitive information before releasing it on the Pentagon war court website whose motto is “Fairness * Transparency * Justice.”

A White House staffer who declined to be identified said “the correspondence has been delivered,” but said there were “no additional details to share at this time.”

The Pentagon’s chief war crimes prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, had opposed release of the letter in a court filing that called it propaganda. He also urged Pohl to defer to the prison whether it should be mailed to the president.

    

Carol Rosenberg: 305-376-3179, @carolrosenberg

Original documents

Read the defense lawyers’ Sept. 3, 2015, motion here and the prosecutors’ Sept. 4, 2015, response here.

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