War on Terror

Judge Orders End of External Censorship of Gitmo Trial

Was not even in control of information being transmitted from courtroom


FORT MEADE, Md. — The military judge overseeing the prosecution of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, accused of aiding the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on Thursday ordered the government to disconnect the technology that allows offstage censors — apparently in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Agency — to block a public feed of the courtroom.

The order by the judge, Col. James L. Pohl of the Army, followed the interruption on Monday of a feed from the military tribunal courtroom in Guantánamo Bay of a pretrial motion in the Sept. 11 case that the public and the media view on a 40-second delay to guard against any inadvertent disclosure of classified information. The interruption brought to light that officials outside the courtroom were monitoring the proceedings and could block the public feed.

"This is the last time," Colonel Pohl said, that any party other than a security officer inside the courtroom who works for the commission "will be permitted to unilaterally decide that the broadcast will be suspended."