Accused Sept. 11 Planners to Face Charges Five Guantanamo Bay detainees accused of helping plan the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will be arraigned Thursday in a military courtroom at the U.S. base in Cuba. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh and three others are charged with 2,973 counts of murder.
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Accused Sept. 11 Planners to Face Charges

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Accused Sept. 11 Planners to Face Charges

Accused Sept. 11 Planners to Face Charges

Accused Sept. 11 Planners to Face Charges

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Five Guantanamo Bay detainees accused of helping plan the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will be arraigned Thursday in a military courtroom at the U.S. base in Cuba. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh and three others are charged with 2,973 counts of murder.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

NPR's Jackie Northam has the story from Guantanamo Bay.

JACKIE NORTHAM: Brigadier General Thomas Hartman (U.S. Air Force, Legal Counsel): You'll see five accuse. We're going to be there with 18 defense counsel. It's going to be an amazing reflection on the American system of justice.

NORTHAM: Navy Lieutenant Rich Federico, a military defense lawyer for Binalshibh, says it will be a challenge to represent his client in an open and public trial.

RICH FEDERICO: The instruction and guidance we've been provided from the government thus far is every word that comes out of his mouth is classified at the top secret level. It would seemed to follow, then if they're been consistent with that, then every word he was saying on open court will also be classified at top secret level, which would mean that there will be really notability for the public to hear any word that ever came out of his mouth.

NORTHAM: But the men where held and interrogated at secret CIA prisons for several years before being transferred to Guantanamo in 2006. and one of the issues hanging over the hearings is whether evidence against them was extracted by torture. Under the military tribunal rules, evidence gained through torture is not admissible. It's different if it's gathered through coercion, says General Hartman.

HARTMAN: It's a rule of evidence specifically to deal with the admissibility of evidence that's obtained by coercive techniques. And in order for that to be achieved, the proponent of that evidence has to show that the evidence is reliable, probative, and in the best interest of justice.

NORTHAM: Jeffrey Addicott is a former senior Pentagon advisor to the military commissions.

JEFFREY ADDICOTT: My answer is duh, I mean we're at war, and war involves political issues from the executive branch. The executive branch should have a very active role on deciding who is a war criminal, who's going to be prosecuted, and that perfectly legitimate.

NORTHAM: Eugene Fidel, a Washington lawyer and the president of the National Institute for Military Justice, says there's more to this than executive prerogative.

EUGENE FIDEL: I think the administration is sparing no effort to get these cases, the big cases, underway before a new administration take's office. In other words, I think the effort now is to make these cases irretrievable so that a new administration hands will be tied as to have the cases will have to move forward.

NORTHAM: Jackie Northam, NPR News, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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