Guantanamo testimony released after censorship ‘mistake’
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Thursday released testimony that was censored during court appearances made by the September 11 suspects at Guantanamo on Saturday, with a spokesman attributing the omission to a mistake.
Michael Schwartz, a lawyer for Walid bin Attash — one of the five accused of plotting the attacks — said in the previously unheard remarks that his client had refused to wear headphones because they reminded him of torture.
“The reason for that is the torture that my client was subjected to by the men and women wearing the big boy pants down at the CIA,” Schwartz said, according to a transcript. “It makes it impossible.”
The headphones were provided for simultaneous translation.
Schwartz, an Air Force Captain, was referring to remarks made by Jose Rodriguez, ex-director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, describing detainee interrogation techniques used during George W. Bush’s presidency.
“We needed to get everybody in government to put their big-boy pants on and provide the authorities that we needed,” Rodriguez said in an interview with the CBS network’s “60 Minutes” program.
Journalists sitting behind a glass screen at Saturday’s hearing listening to the legal exchanges did not hear Schwartz’s words at the time as they were censored out by a military official during a 40-second transmission delay.
On Thursday, however, Pentagon spokesman Todd Breasseale said the words had not been deliberately censored.
“The government’s chief prosecutor was adamant that the accidentally ‘white noised’ portion be restored as quickly as possible, having been in the courtroom to witness the statement,” Breasseale said.
“Upon completion of a thorough security review, the Office of Military Commissions did just that,” he added.
Confessed September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four alleged co-plotters opted to defer their pleas at Saturday’s arraignment proceedings in a 13-hour hearing at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
And they repeatedly refused to answer questions.