US military judge restricts unclassified material in 9/11 trial

[JURIST] The chief US military judge overseeing the trial of the accused 9/11 conspirators, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed [BBC profile], has ruled that lawyers cannot make public any material involved in the trial, including unclassified documents. The decision by Judge Army Col. James L. Pohl was issued on December 20 but was just released this week. The new requirements prevent [LAT report] lawyers from sharing unclassified surveillance information, medical records, autopsy reports, the names of the military commission jurors, as well as other military and police information. This decision and earlier rulings by Pohl, siding with the US government, have been criticized by Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press [advocacy website] and a number of major news agencies.

This ruling follows a decision last month by Pohl approving [JURIST report] the US government's request for a protective order effectively blocking the public's access to accused 9/11 [JURIST backgrounder] conspirators' testimony regarding the alleged use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website]. In April Pohl assigned himself [JURIST report] to preside over the tribunals of the five alleged plotters of the 9/11 terror attacks. Earlier in April the Department of Defense (DOD) referred charges [JURIST report] to Pohl against the five accused 9/11 plotters. The DOD announced last year that it had sworn charges against the five men [JURIST report]. In April 2011 US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four others would be tried by a military commission [JURIST report] after the Obama administration abandoned attempts to have the 9/11 suspects tried in civilian courts. Holder had wanted the accused be tried before a federal civilian court but referred the cases to the DOD after Congress imposed a series of restrictions [JURIST reports] barring the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the US.

 

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