IT Issues Won't Delay Trial on Sept. 11 Plot
(CN) - Proceedings against the self-professed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and his four alleged co-conspirators can move ahead as the Pentagon addresses computer server problems at Guantanamo Bay, a military judge ruled.
Defense attorneys representing Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and his alleged accomplices wanted to pause proceedings pending resolution of computer issues involving servers on the U.S. Naval Base in Cuba. Trial has not been set for the nearly 3,000 counts of murder, terrorism and hijacking related to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the worst attack on U.S. soil.
During proceedings last month, attorneys for the defendants claimed that they faced security issues such as hundreds of thousands of vanished emails and apparently modified work-product files. Two attorneys also allegedly received phone calls from agents questioning them about websites they had been visiting to research their cases.
In April, Capt. Karen Mayberry, the lead defense counsel overseeing their cases, ordered lawyers for the terror suspects to ensure the confidentiality of their communications by no longer using Pentagon servers. Defense attorneys said they have been using Starbucks and other private Wi-Fi systems for work since that time.
Prosecutor Ed Ryan ridiculed the notion that this was a safer alternative when he questioned her decision at the war court last month. The government maintains that server issues affected both parties and stemmed from "IT-101" errors by contractors working to improve the system. They denied any effort to impinge on attorney-client privilege.
The military judge, Col. James Pohl, issued an order Tuesday on the matter, but the contents have not been publicly disclosed since all filings at the military commissions go through security review before their release.
Reuters and the Associated Press reported, however, that the judge rejected a delay in light of Pentagon assurances that it would work to correct the server problems. The articles did not specify which improvements Pohl viewed as adequate.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed awareness of the ruling, and said the "U.S. government will continue to follow the law."
The next set of hearings is scheduled for Oct. 22.