Pretrial hearings resume in the 9/11 death-penalty case Monday with a bid by a lawyer for an accused terrorist to stop the proceedings.
Miami Herald Sept. 11 Trial Guide
At issue: a civil lawsuit filed in federal court by a former member of the troubled legal team of Yemeni Walid bin Attash, who is charged as an alleged deputy in the terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.
Details are few because the war court has yet to publicly release the request to stop the proceedings by Bin Attash’s defense attorneys led by Chicago-based criminal attorney Cheryl Bormann. At the same time, the federal court has sealed the lawsuit by former defense team member Tim Semmerling at the U.S. District Court in Illinois.
But bin Attash, 39, in U.S. custody since 2003, has been trying to fire Bormann and other team defense lawyers since around the time Semmerling left the case in October 2015. The judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, has met privately with bin Attash and his lawyers and ruled there has been no good cause to release Bormann, something that would halt case progress for months while the Defense Department hires and provides security clearances for a new death penalty defender, known as a counsel learned in capital punishment cases.
Prosecutor’s pre-hearing statement
Semmerling for a time served as a so-called mitigation expert in the capital-punishment case of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, found guilty of killing 13 people in a Nov. 5, 2009, shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan is on the military’s Death Row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
If Pohl chooses to go forward, lawyers say, he has agreed to hear testimony on Friday from the first person waterboarded by agents of the CIA in secret overseas prisons. First, the judge and lawyers will discuss the scope of the questioning of the never-charged captive known as Abu Zubaydah, who has decided to shed his immunity to discuss conditions at Guantánamo’s most clandestine prison operation, Camp 7.