A military judge in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on Thursday ordered government officials to stop censoring the pre-trial hearings for alleged September 11th mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four alleged co-conspirators. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - We already knew there are secrets in the military courtroom in Guantanamo. Observers in the gallery and elsewhere watch on a 40-second delay so a security official in the courtroom can mute any classified information.
But this week, even the judge was shocked to find that an unnamed government entity outside the courtroom can also silence the feed.
"Why is it that coming up on five years into this, 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?" said David Nevin, attorney for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
"Who is pulling the strings? Who is the master of puppets? Who?" said Commander Walter Ruiz, attorney for Mustafa al Hawsawi. "We have more questions than we have answers."
On Thursday, the judge said it won't happen again, telling the courtroom, "I order the government to disconnect any ability for any third party to suspend the broadcast of these proceedings."
"We will comply with the judge's order," said Brigadier General Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor in the case.
No one, including Martins, would say who the shadowy censor was, but he did defend the need to protect government secrets.
"There really are things that if we get out to them, can damage public interests, including national security," Martins said.
Defense attorneys have requested the entire proceeding be put on hold to find out what other types of surveillance may be taking place.
"We have significant reasons to believe that we have been listened in on in our communications with our client and in our communications with ourselves," Nevin said.
The pre-trial hearings are to hash out procedures and ground rules for the trial itself, which is likely at least a year away from even starting. After a week-and-a-half break, hearings resume here February 11.
NY1's Bobby Cuza is in Guantanamo Bay for the hearings, filing reports throughout the week.