The self-proclaimed September 11th mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four alleged co-conspirators waived their rights to be present Tuesday at the second day of their pre-trial hearings at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba, and few details have emerged so far on why outgoing video and audio feeds of the court proceedings were suddenly cut off at one point on Monday. NY1's Bobby Cuza is in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for the hearings and filed the following report.
GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - The case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his alleged September 11th co-conspirators was back in court Tuesday, but the defendants themselves were not.
On Monday, three of them appeared in camouflage. On Tuesday, with their attendance not required, they didn't show up at all, leaving it to the attorneys to argue over the ground rules of just how this September 11th terror trial will be conducted.
"The problem is that the procedures in the military commissions are so unsettled that neither the parties nor the military commission know how to address some of those issues," said James Connell, attorney for Ammar al Baluchi. "One of those issues is how to handle classified information."
When classified information comes up during the hearings, a security official in the courtroom can silence the feed that goes to observers in the gallery and to the media. On Monday, someone outside the court censored the feed, startling even the judge. So far, no one has revealed exactly who that censor was.
Other issues discussed Tuesday included whether defense attorneys should be allowed to spend 48 hours in the detention facility to see how their clients are treated.
"When our clients make complaints to us about the conditions of confinement, if we know what the circumstances are that they actually live in, it just, it makes it much easier for us to put things in context," said James Harrington, attorney for Ramzi bin al Shibh.
Following the recent death of his father, one defendant also requested a teleconference with his mother overseas. He won little sympathy from the families of September 11th victims who made the trip to Guantanamo Bay.
"No, I wouldn't give him that right to call his family," said Matthew Sellitto, whose son died in the September 11th attacks. "He made his choice when he devised this plan."
That teleconference seems unlikely, as the judge indicated he doesn't even have the authority to make it happen. Meanwhile, Wednesday's court session was canceled. This pre-trial hearing is expected to resume Thursday.
NY1's Bobby Cuza is in Guantanamo Bay and will have reports from the hearing throughout the week.