Prosecutors: How did Khalid Sheik Mohammed get document out of Gitmo?
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — The war court prosecutor has asked the Sept. 11 judge to investigate how Huffington Post and a British television station got a copy of some commentary by the alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
The emergency motion itself was still under seal Tuesday at the war court website. But Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins and his fellow 10 prosecutiors divulged its contents in a correspondence to Sept. 11 victims’ family members distributed by the Pentagon’s victims liaison, Karen Loftus.
In January, The Huffington Post and Britain's Channel 4 published 36 pages of computer printout commentary — much of it invoking religious themes — on a range of religious and social topics attributed to Mohammed.
In it, the author quotes the Koran, Richard Nixon and the Bible and offers a range of opinions on current events — from same-sex marriage, which he opposes, to the U.S. military suicide rate, which he blames on conspicuous U.S. consumption in impoverished Afghanistan.
It was dated in October and apparently written at Guantánamo’s secret prison for former CIA captives, from which little news emerges. The copy posted by Huffington Post bore no markings to indicate the document was secret, although page 7 appears to have a self-styled redaction, a white-out strip or piece of surgical tape that could be covering up a name.
Although the judge in the case has ruled that not everything a former CIA captive says is necessarily classified, their writings and lawyers’ motions are considered classified until an intelligence agency decides which portions to black out.
At the prison, a spokesman, Navy Cmdr. John Filsotrat, said he was “unaware” of any internal investigation by detention center staff into how the document came to light.
But separately the 9/11 judge, Army Col. James Pohl, may have the authority to investigate whether the disclosure violates a protective order on the release of information in the trial of Mohammed and four co-defendants. The five men are accused of orchestrating the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that killed almost 3,000 people, and the Pentagon prosecutor seeks their execution if they are convicted.
The prosecutor said the still-sealed emergency motion, filed March 3, asks the judge “to inquire of the Defense as to how this letter was released, and to take action to ensure that the Commission process cannot be used to inappropriately disseminate propaganda.”
The Sept. 11 trial is currently in the pretrial phase with the judge still hearing fundamental issues on what part of the Constitution might apply at the war court here, how much of the trial will be held in secret or argued through substitutions for classified evidence and how much evidence the defense teams can actually obtain.
Pohl brought the hearings to a halt in December at the request of the prosecution to clarify whether one of the alleged plotters, Ramzi bin al Shibh of Yemen, is mentally competent to stand trial. He repeatedly disrupted the last round of hearings with accusations that U.S. troops were causing noises and vibrations in his secret prison cell in a sleep-deprivation campaign.
The next hearings are scheduled for four days in April to tackle the question of Bin al Shibh’s competency because, although his lawyers argue he’s competent, the Yemeni has refused to submit to a military mental health exam.
The prosecution denies that the troops are intentionally disrupting Bin al Shibh’s sleep patterns at Camp 7.
“We have asked that this matter be taken up immediately following resolution of the mental competency matter,” Martins wrote.
Martins’ letter to the Sept. 11 families also acknowledged that the sanity issue derailed the current proposed prosecution timetable of a Sept. 22 trial date.
At Huffington Post, reporter Ryan Reilly, who reported on the document, said nobody from the government or prison had ever asked him how the document was obtained.