GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — The accused mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, appeared Wednesday in a camouflage vest and railed against the U.S. government at the military tribunal where he is being prosecuted.
“When the government feels sad for the killing of 3,000 on Sept. 11, we also should feel sorry that the U.S. government represented by Gen. Martins have killed millions of people,” Mohammad said through an interpreter, referring to the chief prosecutor, Army Gen. Mark Martins.
“My only advice to you, that you do not get affected by the crocodile tears. Because your blood is not made of gold and ours is made out of water. We are all human beings,” he told the judge Army Col. James L. Pohl.
Col. Pohl had granted Mohammed’s request to make a statement in court, but said it was a one-time occurrence. He said Mohammed has no right to give personal observations and comments on the trial proceedings.
“No matter how heartfelt, I’m not going to again entertain personal comments about the way things are going,”the military judge said.
Wednesday’s proceedings were part of a week-long series of pre-trial hearings that eventually will determine how the trial of Mohammed and his four co-defendants will be conducted.
Col. Pohl had ruled Tuesday that the five accused 9/11 co-conspirators can wear whatever they want to court, as long as the clothing does not misidentify their detainee status or is any part of an U.S. military uniform.
On Wednesday, Col. Pohl said he would soon issue a ruling on the issue of “presumptive classification,” which would classify statements by the detainees relating to their rendition, detention and interrogation by the CIA, or any information that remains classified by the U.S. government.
Government prosecutors have argued that such statements could reveal sources and intelligence-gathering methods that could risk U.S. national security.
Defense attorneys have argued that classification of their clients’ statements hinders their ability to mount their cases, and would hobble their ability to present information on the suspects post-capture treatment.
The courtroom has equipment that can keep accidentally disclosed classified information from observers in back of the room, where they are separated from the proceedings by soundproof glass, and observers watching the proceedings via closed-circuit cameras at U.S. installations.
Observers receive a 40-second delayed video and audio feed, which is managed by a court security officer who can set off a flashing red light to indicate the disclosure of classified information and temporarily suspend the feed.
Also on Wednesday, the court will take up defense claims that rat feces and mold was contaminating their work spaces, which the prosecution says are healthy and safe for normal operations.
The issue has plagued the court throughout the week as the defense and prosecution argued over the allegations.
“I don’t really want to get into long term litigation on this issue,” said Col. Pohl.
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Kristina Wong is a national security reporter for The Washington Times, covering defense, foreign policy and intelligence affairs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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