Lawyers for 9/11 suspects seek hearing into FBI spying allegations

Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:08pm EDT

1 of 4. Self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad attends pretrial hearings in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, June 16, 2014 in this Pentagon-approved sketch by court artist Janet Hamlin.

Credit: Reuters/Janet Hamlin

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FORT MEADE Md. - Attorneys for five Guantanamo prisoners accused in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks asked a military judge on Monday to order a hearing into what they called FBI intrusions into their confidential communications with their clients.

The defense attorneys say the FBI secretly questioned at least four members of their support staff. They are threatening to withdraw from the case, saying the FBI might have impaired their ability to represent their clients without a conflict of interest.

“Basically, we have had a spy in our team for a number of months,” said James Harrington, attorney for Ramzi Binalshibh, who is accused of wiring money to Sept. 11 hijackers and passing information to al Qaeda. “It obviously is very troubling to us.” He asked the judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, for a hearing to question FBI agents and former members of his own staff about the extent of the FBI’s actions.

Defense attorneys said FBI agents also questioned at least one of their private investigators and an Arabic interpreter. They believe the FBI agents asked their support staff not to tell anyone.

Prosecutors say the FBI questioned only an evidence technician about possible mishandling of evidence.

They say any relevant information about the FBI investigation has been disclosed to the court and defense attorneys.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez said the FBI had done nothing to create a conflict of interest that might require another hearing or for defense attorneys to withdraw from the case.

Cheryl Bormann, attorney for Walid bin Attash, said the FBI’s actions had a “chilling effect” on the defense team’s ability to represent its clients.

The Defense Department accuses bin Attash of training Sept. 11 hijackers and of being a bodyguard for late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The attacks using hijacked airliners killed almost 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Pohl scheduled the Monday hearing after defense attorneys alleged in April the FBI tried to turn one of their experts into an informant.

The defendants face possible death penalties if they are convicted.

The hearing was held at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base prison in Cuba but monitored over closed-circuit television at a Fort Meade press room.

(Editing by Peter Cooney and Jim Loney)

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Comments (3)
mstrdiver wrote:
So the FBI, as part of the Eric Holder’s Justice Department, may have deliberately violated the rule of law, which he has stated many times in the past, is his only goal as the US Attorney General?

So, who will investigate these alleged abuses by the Justice Department? How high did the approval go? Who knew about the proposed targeting? Was this a small group of well-intentioned [a rogue group perhaps] who saw that these folks would never really come to trial and decided to get more info than we already had through extra-legal means?

Was this a bit of “get even” because the decision was made to keep these detainees at Gitmo and not bring them under the jurisdiction of the US Court with various US Attorneys Generals charging and prosecuting these people in US federal district courts?

Or was this a slap at our US laws to show that legal restrictions that apply to the general American citizenry do not apply to those at Justice or elsewhere because THEY are supposed to enforce and prosecute our laws?

How will this “attempted spying” affect the trials, if held? Was that the reason for this “spying”, to stop any trials by damaging any case or legally obtained information and block it from being used? Could this also be part of the closure of Gitmo push by this administration in defiance of the US Congress?

There are lots of questions and no answers right now.

Jun 16, 2014 8:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
mstrdiver wrote:
So the FBI, as part of the Eric Holder’s Justice Department, may have deliberately violated the rule of law, which he has stated many times in the past, is his only goal as the US Attorney General?

So, who will investigate these alleged abuses by the Justice Department? How high did the approval go? Who knew about the proposed targeting? Was this a small group of well-intentioned [a rogue group perhaps] who saw that these folks would never really come to trial and decided to get more info than we already had through extra-legal means?

Was this a bit of “get even” because the decision was made to keep these detainees at Gitmo and not bring them under the jurisdiction of the US Court with various US Attorneys Generals charging and prosecuting these people in US federal district courts?

Or was this a slap at our US laws to show that legal restrictions that apply to the general American citizenry do not apply to those at Justice or elsewhere because THEY are supposed to enforce and prosecute our laws?

How will this “attempted spying” affect the trials, if held? Was that the reason for this “spying”, to stop any trials by damaging any case or legally obtained information and block it from being used? Could this also be part of the closure of Gitmo push by this administration in defiance of the US Congress?

There are lots of questions and no answers right now.

Jun 16, 2014 8:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Chazz wrote:
let ‘em all go….our benevolent President has in word and action made us a friendlier non-aggressive cohabitational, I’m okay-you’re okay nation so let’s let things of the past be in the past.

I mean, what difference does it make…now, who died and who perpetrated 9/11?

And let’s get off Eric Holder…the poor man is just trying to do the social justice thing that “the man” has been keeping down for way too long. I mean, what’s a law if it can’t be broken or a waver be applied? Can’t we all just get along? Let’s fire up some skunky like the do I Colorado, man….and lay back and be peaceful. Clearly everyone in the World wants peace….n’ stuff.

I mean…look at Hillary. She was able to get a child rapist off (with time served, heh heh, not, like get him off, heh heh…) through a legal loophole in spite of overwhelming evidence of the clear guilt of her “client” back in the day so why not exploit this loophole???? I mean….what IS guilt and innocence in the hands of a crafty, shady, politically motivated lawyer????

Jun 16, 2014 5:15pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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