Monday, Oct 27, 2008
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — With the war court’s future uncertain, the Pentagon has made plans to bring victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — chosen by lottery — to watch a hearing of reputed al Qaeda kingpin Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s death penalty trial.
Five will be chosen. In an Oct. 20 letter, the chief war crimes prosecutor invited relatives of those killed on 9/11 to submit names to watch a military commissions hearing Dec. 8, during the closing days of President Bush’s administration, which has championed the tribunals.
Scheduled that day is a hearing in the case of Mohammed and four other former CIA-held captives accused of conspiring to train, finance and orchestrate the hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people in the 2001 attacks.
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Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, who has for years helped steer Bush administration detainee policy, issued an endorsement of the plan to airlift family members of those killed in the attacks to this remote U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.
”Soon, some of those victim families will have the opportunity to see firsthand the fair, open and just trials of those alleged to have perpetrated these horrific acts,” England said.
A former military prosecutor has testified that England had discussed with Pentagon lawyers the ”strategic political value” of charging some prized Guantánamo detainees before the 2006 congressional elections.
This article was posted: Monday, October 27, 2008 at 11:05 am