WASHINGTON — The military judge in charge of the trial for alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others has ruled that lawyers cannot share even unclassified materials or discuss the information with the press or public, and he further has ordered the names of the jurors be kept secret in the trial.
The ruling by the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, follows an order on Dec. 6 in which he directed that any evidence or discussion about harsh interrogation techniques used against the five men also will be kept secret, despite protests from human rights groups that the government is trying to hide the fact that the men were tortured.
The new ruling, issued Dec. 20 but made public Thursday, marks the second time the judge has sided with government prosecutors at the U.S. Naval Base on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in their requests for framing the case that will become the first and likely only trial in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Upset with the back-to-back rulings, members of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, as well as a consortium of attorneys representing various media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, are continuing to pursue legal challenges to Pohl’s orders.
Under the new order, the attorneys cannot share “unclassified” information dealing with law enforcement, the military, and surveillance information, medical records, autopsy reports and the names of the military commission jurors, witnesses and others with connections to military detention operations.
None of the material, Pohl said, “shall be disseminated to the media.” But the judge did allow the disclosure of some portions of unclassified material in pretrial legal briefs and during pretrial hearings, as well as the trial.