News / USA

Secret Monitoring Clouds 911 Proceedings

Luis Ramirez
A U.S. military judge at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba has ordered the disconnection of a line that allowed the U.S. government to censor the proceedings of the five accused co-conspirators of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The move came after the judge discovered an unidentified entity outside the courtroom has been listening to and controlling the broadcast of statements made during a pretrial hearing. The hearings have adjourned until February 11.

Judge James Pohl's discovery that an outside entity of the U.S. government had the power to switch off the audio feeds from the military courtroom has complicated the U.S. government's efforts to portray these proceedings as fair and transparent.

Pohl, an Army colonel, on Thursday ordered that no third party in the U.S. government has the authority to suspend audio feeds from the courtroom.

The judge was surprised on Tuesday when someone switched off the line that broadcasts court proceedings to journalists, observers and others, for about two minutes.  The feed has a 40-second delay designed to let censors prevent the leak of classified information.  Pohl did not know someone outside of the court was controlling it.

At the time the feed was cut, defense attorney David Nevin was discussing a motion to preserve so-called “black sites” or secret U.S. detention facilities in third countries where the suspects were allegedly held and tortured after their arrest.  The judge said Nevin had not said anything that was classified.  It is not clear what prompted the censors to act.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Nevin expressed concern that someone other than the judge had that kind of control over the courtroom.

“Why is it that coming up on five years into this [that] not even the judge is aware of who's listening and who has the authority and the ability to shut it down so that you can't hear it?  So that not one more word after right now, when I've decided you've all heard enough, not one more word gets heard.  What kind of a system is that?,” Nevin said.

Lawyers declined to comment when asked if they suspected the order to cut the line had come from the Central Intelligence Agency.

The incident prompted the judge to recess all day Wednesday to consult with court officials and clarify what happened.  The discussions delayed action on a number of motions that were supposed to have been addressed this week.  

The delays illustrate the difficulty that the U.S. government is having in prosecuting this case in which it has to balance the need to give the men a fair trial and at the same time protect classified information and national security interests.  

Army Brigadier General Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor, said conducting the proceedings in a way that is fair and transparent will take a long time.

“And although it is wearying, it's necessary that we do this.  That as we move toward judgment, we do it in a way that is in accordance with our values.  That's what we're going to do.  That's what we all swear an oath to do and that's what we will do,” Martins said.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other accused co-conspirators face the death penalty if found guilty of conspiracy and nearly 3,000 counts of murder for their roles in planning the 2001 attacks.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid