By Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald (TNS)
MIAMI – Lawyers for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are asking the Army judge in the Sept. 11 death-penalty case to help them send a letter the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks wrote President Barack Obama from Guantanamo.
The effort appeared in a notation on the war court docket recently. His attorneys are declining to discuss it.
But it appears to be a continuation of an effort begun last year after the man who was waterboarded 183 times by the CIA, then once bragged that he ran the 9/11 terror attacks “from A to Z,” could not find anyone at the remote outpost to send his letter to the White House.
Mohammed’s lawyer, David Nevin, said at a news conference last summer that Mohammed had written Obama about “Muslim oppression at the hands of the West in general in the United States in particular.” It was unclear whether the letter currently on file at the war court was the same one, or if the 50-year-old al-Qaida captive had written another one.
At issue then was how a letter written by a so-called high-value detainee would be allowed to leave the base since anything he said or wrote was presumed to be top secret. It was described as a private letter to the president, not war-court work product, and Nevin noted at the time that the president of the United States has a security clearance.
Since then, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a portion of its so-called torture report, about the CIA program that interrogated Mohammed, and the judge has ordered the prosecutors to carry out a sweeping classification review in the case. That effort is ongoing.
The Pentagon disclosed the filing entitled “Motion to Send Letter to the President” on the war court website on Friday. It was dated Sept. 3. The case prosecutor followed with an emergency motion to block the letter “from further dissemination.” On Sept. 4, the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, issued a currently sealed order sealing the defense motion, including the letter.
Mohammed, his nephew and three other former CIA captives charged in the conspiracy case are due at the war court on Oct. 19. But those pretrial hearings have been repeatedly delayed while a Justice Department team works behind the scenes to sort out a potential conflict problem in the case involving FBI spying on the defense team of one defendant, Ramzi Binalshibh.
(c)2015 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
File photo: The U.S. flag flies over Camp VI, a prison used to house detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, in this file photo taken March 5, 2013. REUTERS/Bob Strong/Files