Future of 9/11 tribunal unclear after rocky week of hearings at Guantánamo
Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian
Monday 21 April 2014 14.45 EDT
The apparent investigation into Mohammed’s defense attorneys was only the latest example of intelligence or law enforcement agencies asserting their prerogatives over the 9/11 tribunal. Last year, the CIA remotely muted the courtroom when a lawyer for Mohammed attempted to discuss conditions at the agency’s now-shuttered secret prisons. The agency’s ability to mute the proceedings was a surprise to Pohl, who issued a cease-and-desist order.
Additionally, rooms used by the 9/11 defense lawyers for discussions with clients featured listening devices disguised as smoke detectors, confirming years of suspicion on the part of the defense that their conversations were under surveillance. The culprit was the FBI. Furthermore, the defense teams have faced a huge breach of their email data, which the Pentagon says was inadvertent.
“At this rate, it looks less and less likely that the 9/11 defendants will ever be brought to trial,” the Miami Herald editorialized.
If and whenever the trial commences, surreptitious surveillance of the defense and interference with the proceedings may also jeopardize any convictions or sentences obtained, according to legal observers.
“If the allegations are true, the FBI’s tapping of a member of the defense team for information on the defense’s case, something unimaginable in federal court proceedings, could conceivably lead to the defense asking for a mistrial,” said Karen Greenberg of Fordham University Law School.
“But as the trial isn’t yet under way, and mistrials assume that the trial is under way, it is more likely that you would get a request for dismissal based on outrageous government conduct.”