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Guantánamo judge makes secret ruling on secret motion in secret hearing

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Gitmo trialsDuring a secret hearing at Guantánamo, the military judge in the 9/11 death-penalty case ruled against a secret government request to withhold information from defense lawyers for accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his four alleged co-conspirators, according to a partially redacted transcript released Tuesday.

The hearing, held Aug. 19 at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba, was the first closed pre-trial hearing of the Sept. 11 capital case. The subject matter was so secret that the judge cleared the court of the public and the five men who, if convicted, could be executed for conspiring in the worst attack on U.S. soil, including 2,976 counts of murder.

And, while the 31-page transcript of the 29-minute hearing is so riddled with redactions it is unclear what the Pentagon prosecution team was trying to shield from the defense attorneys, it shows the judge denying the request.

“I’m ruling it is discoverable,” Army Col. James L. Pohl said in response to a secret prosecution motion that argues something “is not discoverable.”

At issue in the hearing was a pretrial motion labeled AE52 by the prosecution that sought a secret ruling from the judge. It was called a “government consolidated notice regarding ex parte, in camera filing and motion for finding” on the Pentagon’s war court website whose motto is “fairness, transparency, justice.”

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