The chief war court judge has agreed to let media and civil liberties lawyers argue for openness at the start of a pre-trial hearing at Guantánamo in the death-penalty case of five alleged conspirators in the Sept. 11 attacks.
A consortium of 14 media groups, including The Miami Herald, and the American Civil Liberties Union separately filed motions protesting protective orders that shield the public from access to secret information in the case.
Judge James Pohl, an Army colonel, agreed to let lawyers argue their case on Aug. 22, the opening day of a week of hearings. He signed the one-page order Wednesday, according to a copy obtained by The Miami Herald. It was posted on the war court website Thursday afternoon.
Defense attorneys for the alleged architect of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and his four co-defendants did not oppose oral arguments. Nor did the office of the Pentagon’s chief war crimes prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, who has been trumpeting the war court’s transparency.
“Oral argument from the media and ACLU will emphasize the critical public interest in open proceedings at Guantánamo,” said James Connell, attorney for Mohammed’s nephew, Ammar al Baluchi, an alleged logistical co-conspirator, who is also known as Ali Abdul Aziz Ali.