The judge presiding at the Sept. 11 death penalty tribunal declined Tuesday to say who cut the audio and video feed to his court for three minutes in an episode that has drawn protest.
The attorney for accused 9/11 mastermind had just spoken the word “secret” on Monday when, as Judge James Pohl put it, “some external body” cut the outside world off from hearing the proceedings.
Spectators in the war court gallery watch from behind soundproofed glass and hear the court on a 40-second delay. A red emergency light spins in court when a censor at the judge’s elbow hits the mute button to prevent someone from spilling national security secrets. Conversation continues but the public can’t hear it.
On Monday, neither the judge, nor the censor, called a court security officer, had done it.
Defense lawyers expressed alarm. The judge, who is an Army colonel, was clearly furious. He called “a little meeting about who turns that light on or off,” then went into a classified court session followed by an off-the-record chambers conference with defense and prosecution attorneys for nearly three hours Monday evening.