Guantanamo 9/11 detainee contests court’s secrecy rule

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, April 20, 2012 2:39 EDT
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Guantanamo inmate via AFP
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An accused September 11 conspirator filed a motion challenging a rule that keeps statements by the Guantanamo detainees secret, his lawyer said.

Attorney James Connell called for end to “the presumption of classification” that applies to everything the Guantanamo detainees say.

His client, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, is scheduled to be arraigned May 5 at Guantanamo along with four other accused terrorists.

All statements made by the detainees are reviewed by US military judges for national security implications before they are released publicly.

Asked whether his client would plead guilty or not guilty during his arraignment, Connell said he could not answer because everything his client says is “presumed classified.”

“Some of the things that the prisoners say are classified, other parts are actually unclassified but even the parts that are unclassified, we are required to treat as if they are classified,” Connell told AFP.

The motion Connell filed on behalf of Ali “tries to open up the situation so things that have nothing to do with national security could be discussed,” he said.

“Presumptive classification contradicts both our democracy’s need for transparency and its rules for protecting national security. It only serves to hide the truth about the torture these men experienced,” Connell said in a statement.

“Under federal law, only information relating to nuclear weapons is presumed to be classified; all other information must be reviewed by a government official… before it can be classified,” he said.

The motion, which is scheduled to be discussed at the May 5 hearing, is “part of an overall push to make the military commissions open up a little bit so people can find out what’s really going on,” Connell told AFP.

Connell’s court filing follows a request at a Guantanamo hearing last week by a lawyer acting on behalf of the US media that an accused terrorist’s testimony about torture he suffered be made public.

Ali, a Pakistani, is scheduled to be arraigned alongside four other co-defendants.

The five are accused of planning and executing the September 11, 2001 attacks against New York and Washington, as well as the downing of a hijacked airplane in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, which killed a total of 2,976 people.

One of the co-defendants scheduled to be arraigned at the May 5 hearing is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11 attacks.

The charges against the defendants carry a possible death penalty.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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