9/11 Terror Plotter Can Wear Camo Vest in Courtroom: Judge

PHOTO: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed camouflage vestOffice of Military Commissions
A military judge has ruled that 9/11 defendant Khalid Sheikh Mohammed may wear camouflage gear into the courtroom.

Admitted 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed won the right from a judge at Guantanamo Tuesday to wear camouflage garb into the courtroom.

Col. James Pohl, presiding over the military tribunal at which five 9/11 defendants are being tried, ruled at a hearing today that Mohammed can wear parts of a military uniform as long as they do not come from a U.S. uniform.

Mohammed's attorneys had filed a motion that would allow him to wear a camouflage hunting vest, arguing that he had worn camouflage when he was a mujahideen fighter in Afghanistan and Bosnia. Prosecutors had argued that there was no correlation between his having worn camouflage as a mujahideen and his status at the military tribunal as an enemy combatant.

Mohammed himself was not on hand to hear the ruling today, the second day of what is expected to be a full week of pre-trial hearings. Under guidelines set yesterday by Col. Pohl, the defendants are allowed to waive their attendance.

Mohammed made a last minute decision not to participate in the hearing just before its scheduled 9 a.m. start. He is in a holding cell close to the courtroom watching the proceedings on a video feed.

Also choosing not to attend Tuesday's hearing were Mohammed's nephew Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, aka Ammar Baluchi, and the alleged financier of the 9/11 plot Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi. Hawsawi and Ali Aziz both indicated early this morning that they would not go to the courtroom.

In the courtroom Tuesday were defendants Ramzi Binalshibh and Walid bin Atash.

Hearings are scheduled to last through Friday as Col. Pohl rules on more than two dozen procedural motions filed by defense attorneys and prosecutors. One motion expected to be heard today was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that seeks to block a "protective order" during the trial that would prevent the revelation of classified details from the defendants' C.I.A. interrogations. The order requires a 40-second delay in the audio feed so even spectators in the courtroom at Guantanamo can't hear details of the C.I.A.'s program.

The earliest the 9/11 defendants could come to trial is next May, but no one involved in the case actually believes that to be anything other than a placeholder date given the complexities involved in bringing the case to trial.

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