Politics|Proceedings successful 9/11 Case Resume, and Then Are Delayed Again
Days up of the 20th day of the Sept. 11 attacks, the 5 men accused of plotting them returned to tribunal aft a agelong shutdown, lone to person the proceeding rapidly recessed.
Sept. 7, 2021Updated 7:54 p.m. ET
GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — It was expected to beryllium a proceeding intended to get the lawsuit against the 5 men accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks backmost connected way aft a agelong hold caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, it turned into different illustration of however ineligible maneuvering and a changing formed of characters proceed to dilatory the process of trying the defendants 20 years aft the horrific events that the prosecution says they helped acceptable successful motion.
Guards led the 5 men, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is accused of being the mastermind of the plot, into the courtroom connected Tuesday for the archetypal clip since the pandemic halted the pretrial proceedings.
A lawyer for Mr. Mohammed had conscionable begun to question the caller judge, Col. Matthew N. McCall, astir the circumstances of his duty to the lawsuit erstwhile a prosecutor, Clayton G. Trivett Jr., announced that the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review had issued a 23-page ruling connected a challenge to the subject committee justice enactment process.
Colonel McCall past recessed the proceeding until Wednesday to springiness the lawyers the remainder of the time to reappraisal the decision.
The hold appears apt to beryllium brief. Even so, the morning’s developments showed however hard it is to get the proceedings moving. Plans to statesman the proceedings this twelvemonth person agelong since been shelved, with the purpose present to statesman successful 2022 astatine the earliest.
Mr. Mohammed looked overmuch arsenic helium did astatine his past tribunal quality successful February 2020. He removed a look disguise to uncover an orange-dyed beard and chatted amiably with immoderate of those accused of being his accomplices. Soldiers successful conflict formal stood defender adjacent successful achromatic masks and integrative look shields successful adherence to strict protocols to safeguard the residents of the distant basal from the virus.
This week’s hearings were preliminary successful nature, but they took connected value due to the fact that of the timing. Colonel McCall is holding his archetypal hearings successful the lawsuit connected the eve of the 20th day of the attacks and aft a 19-month interruption successful pretrial hearings. The erstwhile justice abruptly retired from work astatine the commencement of the pandemic and prosecutors had struggled for much than a twelvemonth to get microorganism protections successful spot and a justice assigned to get the hearings restarted.
More than a twelvemonth of grounds and ineligible arguments person been postponed successful pretrial preparation, notably successful the defence teams’ effort to get cardinal grounds excluded. The defence argues the grounds is tainted by the C.I.A.’s torture of the prisoners during their 3 and 4 years of incommunicado detention earlier their transportation to Guantánamo Bay implicit Labor Day play successful 2006.
Colonel McCall’s ambitions for the week were modest: Allow lawyers to question him astir his inheritance to spot if immoderate of his relationships and acquisition mightiness represent conflicts oregon bias, and past conscionable separately with defence lawyers and prosecutors astir classified information.
But successful its ruling astir the justice enactment process, the Pentagon appeals sheet nullified immoderate of Colonel McCall’s earliest administrative decisions and orders successful the Sept. 11 proceedings, uncovering that, erstwhile helium issued them, during his archetypal 2 months connected the lawsuit successful precocious 2020, helium was excessively inexperienced to preside successful a subject commission.
Colonel McCall had been removed from the lawsuit successful December aft prosecutors protested. He had not yet served for 2 years arsenic a subject judge, a prerequisite for a justice astatine the warfare court. He was reinstated past month.
In the interim, the main judge, Col. Douglas K. Watkins, failed successful a behind-the-scenes effort to get waiver authorization from the Pentagon and past handled the lawsuit himself — prompting defence lawyers to situation months of administrative decisions by some judges.
Much has changed since the past league successful the decease punishment lawsuit that accuses Mr. Mohammed, his nephew and 3 different men of conspiring with the hijackers who killed astir 3,000 radical successful New York, Pennsylvania and astatine the Pentagon.
The main prosecutor, Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins, who had been connected the lawsuit since the arraignment of the defendants successful May 2012, is retiring from the Army and was absent from the courtroom, leaving lone civilian lawyers representing the prosecution, a archetypal successful the past of the case.
The justice required that everyone successful the courtroom deterioration masks but granted himself an objection truthful that lawyers asking him astir his credentials and qualifications could spot his reactions to their questions. Four of the 5 defendants ignored the acquisition and took disconnected their masks truthful that they could spot 1 different arsenic they chatted, perchance for their archetypal encounters since the commencement of the pandemic due to the fact that they are dispersed crossed 2 antithetic maximum-security compartment blocks.
Only the Saudi defendant, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, kept his N95 disguise connected consistently passim the greeting session. His lawyers accidental helium has suffered chronic wellness problems resulting from rectal maltreatment during his C.I.A. detention. On Tuesday helium not lone carried a pillow to tribunal to marque sitting little painful, but guards besides provided him with a padded rehabilitation seat successful court, to which helium added the pillow.
The beards of the 2 youngest defendants successful the case, some successful their mid-40s, became streaked with grey during the pandemic.