Tropical Storm Isaac heads toward Guantanamo Bay; 9/11 hearings delayed

By Julie Tate Washington Post

A tropical storm gathering strength in the Caribbean is forecast to make landfall near Guantanamo Bay and on Wednesday forced U.S.military officials to cancel the latest round of military commission hearings for the five detainees charged in the September 11 attacks.

A military spokesman said that most of the detainees are housed in concrete structures and that those who are not will be transferred to them. Officials recommended that military commission staff members, human rights groups and reporters evacuate Cuba; those planning to leave were scheduled to be flown to Andrews Air Force Base on Thursday.

The National Weather Service is forecasting that Tropical Storm Isaac will hit the naval base at Guantanamo, on the southeastern tip of the island, Saturday morning. A military statement said winds of nearly 60 mph are expected.

Judge James Pohl, who is overseeing the proceedings in the September 11 case, ruled that the start of the pretrial hearings, scheduled for Thursday, would be delayed. The hearings had already been postponed by one day because of an interruption in the government’s computer network, which was caused by a deadly train derailment in Maryland.

The judge was expected to hear a series of motions in the case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks, and his four alleged co-conspirators.

The five men are charged with murder in violation of the law of war, hijacking and terrorism, among other charges.

After their capture, the men were held at secret CIA prisons overseas before being transferred in September 2006 to Guantanamo, where they are held at a small, high-security facility known as Camp 7.

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