Guantanamo Hearing Halted over Accusations of FBI Spying on Defense Team

Center for National Security at Fordham Law

A pre-trial hearing in the 9/11 tribunal at Guantanamo was abruptly halted Monday after defense lawyers accused the FBI in open court of trying to turn a security officer on the defense team of Ramzi bin al Shibh into a secret informant. The development seemed to stun the chief prosecutor, Army Brig. Mark Martins, who told the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, that he was unaware of the FBI activity, reports the Miami Herald.

Defense attorney Jim Harrington said two FBI agents arrived at the home of his team’s Defense Security Officer, asked him who gave news outlets unclassified Khalid Sheikh Mohammed writings and had him sign a non-disclosure agreement that appeared to draw him into a continuing informant relationship. The agents also asked “open-ended questions” probing for evidence of wrongdoing by 9/11 defense lawyers, Harrington said. He chose not to name his team member, who was being suspended from the case for talking, but said he worked for the contractor SRA International. Defense Security Officers are assigned to each of the five legal teams in the 9/11 case, and are meant to help guide team members on what information should be blacked out in court filings. They are privy to internal defense discussions and strategy.

Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham University Law School’s Center on National Security, said the alleged FBI involvement demonstrated the superiority of federal civilian courts over the military commissions as a venue for the 9/11 trial. “It’s hard, if not impossible, to imagine a federal court judge, allowing such a violation to occur in a federal court prosecution,” Greenberg told the Guardian. Miami Herald, Guardian, LA Times

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