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Terror trial defense lawyers criticize military tribunal process as Chicago lawyer wears Muslim garb while defending Gitmo 5 client.

9/11 trial begins at Guantanamo with protest

by defendants

U.S. NAVAL BASE GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — The arraignment of accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four top Al Qaeda lieutenants opened Saturday in a heavily guarded island courtroom with the so-called “Gitmo 5″” launching a silent protest, refusing to cooperate, listen to translations or even answer fundamental questions about a process that could end their lives.
The long-awaited trial began with defense lawyers speaking for the alleged terrorists and arguing that the protest was over their clients’ anger about alleged CIA torture and mistreatment at the prison on the southern rim of Cuba.
One of the lawyers, a woman wrapped in a black Islamic abaya, warned the judge that the protest represented the detainees’ response to “these past eight years” and demonstrated their refusal to acknowledge American military law.
“What happened to these men has affected their ability to focus on these proceedings,” said civilian attorney Cheryl Borman.
But Judge James Pohl, an Army colonel from Pepperdine University presiding in a high-backed chair with the seals of the U.S. Armed Forces on the wall behind him, pushed forward. He repeatedly insisted he would not allow the detainees, their protest or their silence to hijack the proceedings.
“He can participate or not, that’s his choice,” the judge said, referring to Mohammed.
Defense attorney David Nevin, left, is captured speaking with his client Khalid Sheik Mohammed,
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — The defense team forKhalid Shaikh Mohammed, now formally charged with capital murder in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, on Sunday angrily called the military commission legal process a political “regime” set up to put him and the four other defendants to death.
David Nevin, Mohammed’s civilian attorney, said new rules imposed under the Obama administration bar them from discussing with their clients whether they were mistreated by U.S. authorities — and in the case of Mohammed, “tortured” — after their arrests eight years ago.
“We are operating under a regime here,” Nevin said. “We are forbidden from talking to our clients about very important matters.
“And now the government wants to kill Mr. Mohammed. They want to extinguish the last eyewitness so he can never talk about his torture. They want the political cover so he’ll be convicted and executed.”
According to CIA accounts and other documents, Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, was subjected 183 times to waterboarding at a classified CIA black site before he was moved to the detainee prison at Guantanamo Bay.
On Saturday he and his four alleged Sept. 11 comrades were formally arraigned on conspiracy, terrorism and murder charges.
On the accusation that prosecutors are purposely seeking the death penalty, the brigadier general said their goal is simply to submit the case to a jury of 12 U.S. military service members.
“That’s what we want,” he said. “That’s justice, I believe. It will be a real jury, and we will trust this thing with them. These people will be impartial, and that’s what’s going to happen.”
He added, “This death penalty stuff is premature. We are trying to put this through the process.”
Martins also defended women on his prosecution team who he said were dressed “appropriately” at the arraignment Saturday. He was responding to complaints from Cheryl Bormann, a Chicago defense attorney for Walid bin Attash who wore a long black abaya to court.
On Sunday, Bormann explained her abaya, saying her client is offended by women who do not dress in conservative Islamic attire, feeling that it causes him to sin. “It is distracting to him to see a woman who has anything bare other than her face,” she said.
She added that she has met with her client a dozen times, and always dresses respectfully. “He is that conservative,” she said.

Chicago lawyer wears Muslim garb while

defending Gitmo 5 client

Attorney Cheryl Bormann is no stranger to defending unpopular clients. She spent several years with the Cook County public defender’s office supervising lawyers handling death penalty trials. Then she joined a state office that provided assistance to attorneys in death penalty cases across Illinois.
Now Bormann is defending Walid bin Attash, one of five top al-Qaidaoperatives on trial in Guantanamo Bay for allegedly conspiring in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The five men, who have come to be known collectively as the Gitmo 5, were arraigned there Saturday.
It was then that Bormann gained national notice, and a measure of criticism, for appearing in court in traditional Muslim clothing that left only her face showing and for asking one woman on the government team to consider dressing more modestly so her client could focus on the proceedings.
Bormann would not discuss reports of threats against her.


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