World Bulletin/ News Desk
A U.S. military judge on Thursday ordered the government to dismantle a monitoring system that let outside censors halt the public broadcast of hearings for Guantanamo prisoners accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks.
The closed-circuit broadcast feed was cut for a few minutes during a pretrial hearing at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base on Monday for the self-described mastermind of attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four co-defendants.
The cutting of the feed revealed for the first time that a still unidentified entity outside the courtroom was listening in to proceedings with a finger on the kill switch.
"It is the judge that controls the courtroom," said Army Colonel James Pohl during his ruling. "This is the last time... any other third party will be permitted to unilaterally decide that the broadcast should be suspended."
The feed was cut when Mohammed's lawyer, David Nevin, mentioned a defense request to preserve the secret CIA prisons where the defendants had been detained before being transported to Guantanamo.
On Tuesday Pohl said the feed had been cut without reason as the information in question was not secret, and a transcript of the censored portion was later released.
Spectators watch tribunal hearings from behind a soundproof glass wall at the rear of the courtroom at Guantanamo. They hear the sound on a 40-second delay through a feed which also provides sound and video to journalists in the Guantanamo press center and to a couple of closed-circuit viewing sites on the U.S. East Coast.
A court security officer sitting next to the judge controls a button that muffles the feed with static and flashes a red light when secret information is disclosed.
After meeting privately with the lawyers, including prosecutors who seemed well aware of the outside monitoring, Pohl said an "original classification authority" had the ability to monitor the courtroom and cut the feed.
Pohl did not identify that authority but it would be whichever agency or officer had originally classified information about the CIA prisons as secret.
Pohl ordered that monitoring system be removed on Thursday and said emphatically that he and the court security officer were the only ones with authority to suspend the broadcast.
The chief prosecutor, Brigadier General Mark Martins, serves as the government's top-ranking representative at the trial and said his team would comply with the judge's order. He refused to say who cut the feed or where they were listening from.
The hearings adjourned as scheduled on Thursday and will resume on Feb. 11.
They will then consider an emergency request that further hearings be halted until it can be ascertained whether someone was also eavesdropping on defense attorneys' conversations among themselves and with their clients. Nevin said defense lawyers have a duty to ensure those are confidential.
Defense lawyers have long suspected their conversations were being monitored and "after this week, the paranoia level has kicked up a notch," said James Connell, who represents defendant Ali Abdul Aziz Ali.
After Thursday's hearing, another of the defense lawyers, Commander Walter Ruiz, said: "Is this a system that we can believe in? Who is pulling the strings? Who is the master of puppets?"
Demonstrators rallied in Vienna against ill-treatment of refugees after 71 people were found dead in an abandoned truck last week
The Independent newspaper has revealed that Ultra Orthodox children in kindergarten, with some younger than age 3 are being taught to hate anyone who is not Jewish
The far right party has left the coalition with the party leader Oleg Lyashko criticizing the Ukrainian leadership saying that granting regional powers was a conspiracy.
Media reports say earlier self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics were preparing a referendum on accession to Russia
Nuclear power increase may help RSA solve its problem of electricity shortage, regular power cuts
Herds of cattle and their owners are are now another target in the sectarian violence of the Central African Republic
President Otto Perez Molina is at the top level in the hierarchy of a criminal network that defrauded the state of an estimated $120 million in customs revenue.
Official figures have shown the Canadian economy has entered recession, with the economy expected to dominate the election debate, with elections on October 19
EU President says there is no justification for hostile, racist or xenophobic reactions to refugees
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry claims Armenian troops opened fire on a village along the countries' border, injuring three Azerbaijanis
German Chancellor Merkel, Spainish PM Rajoy have called on EU member states to agree on a fair distribution of refugees
Nearly 100,000 sign document calling for Israeli prime minister's arrest for war crimes
People inspired by prominent author ready to welcome refugees, urge Icelandic government to do more
SDSM's return is part of Brussels-brokered deal between government and opposition
Hungarian PM's visit to Brussels is opportunity to explore in depth what further assistance can be provided to Hungary, says European Commission President
Baku's Court for Serious Crimes sentenced Khadija Ismayilova on corruption charges