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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

9/11 Defendants Appear Calm In Gitmo Court

Elizabeth Johnson |
October 15, 2012 | 3:16 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after his capture. Mohammed has claimed he masterminded the 9/11 attacks "from A to Z" (Creative Commons)
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after his capture. Mohammed has claimed he masterminded the 9/11 attacks "from A to Z" (Creative Commons)
In a stark departure from their previous appearance that turned into a circus-like spectacle, five Guantanamo prisoners charged for terrorism and murder in the Sept. 11 attacks appeared serene before a military tribunal Monday, CBS News reported.

The week’s hearings will focus on a dozen general legal issues, primarily security measures and rules to prevent prisoners from publicly revealing what happened to them in secret overseas CIA prisons where they were held before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay in Sept. 2006.


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After May’s arraignment turned into a 13-hour debacle, with prisoners ignoring the judge and ranting, Monday’s hearing may have seemed like a welcome respite. But the apparent tranquility of the defendants does not ensure a speedy hearing.

For hours, defense lawyers argued that their clients shouldn’t be forced to attend the hearings because it may bring up memories of their time in CIA detention, and the military judge ruled that the defendants are excused from hearings through the end of the week. Whether their presence will be required at the trial has not been decided. 

ALSO SEE: 9/11: Less Tension 11 Years Later

In the specially designed courtroom, the government was able to muffle classified information for spectators behind a glass wall while the prosecution and defense asserted their case for and against a protective order that would determine what the defendants can reveal about their time in CIA overseas prisons.

The defendants’ lawyers argued that the protective order will hinder their defense and the American Civil Liberties Union stated in a separate challenge that the restrictions are “overly broad” and will limit the defendants’ ability to share their experiences with the public.

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"What we are challenging is the censorship of the defendant's testimony based on their personal knowledge of the government's torture and detention of them," said Hina Shamsi, an ACLU attorney.

The U.S. government has previously acknowledged that the defendants faced “enhanced interrogation techniques” before they were brought to Guantanamo, including, in some cases, waterboarding.

The protective order must be approved before the case can move forward. It is likely that the trial is still over a year away.

Read the full story at CBS News.

Read more Neon Tommy coverage of the Guantanamo Bay hearings here.

Reach Executive Producer Elizabeth Johnson here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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