August 23, 2012
Can the government classify the words of an accused terrorist before he even utters them? That was to be the subject of much debate in hearings at Guantanamo Bay, now cancelled due to Hurricane Isaac. (Originally scheduled to start today, a train derailment in Baltimore yesterday cut the cable line that provides the Gitmo base with Internet access.) A military commission was scheduled to hold pre-trial hearings to hammer out some of the key issues affecting the upcoming trial of the alleged plotters of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
In documents filed with the military judge, Army Col. James Pohl, the government claims all statements of the detainees — anything they said in the past or might say in the future — must be “presumptively classified.” The government wants to review every statement before its release to determine whether it would harm national security.
The primary concern is what the five defendants accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks might say about their treatment during interrogation at secret CIA prisons overseas, and then after they were transferred to the prison at Guantanamo Bay. According to the government, whatever they might say about their capture and treatment must be kept secret.