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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Accused 9/11 Co-Conspirators' Defense Problems

From miamiherald.com: Two weeks after the Pentagon announced plans to stage death-penalty trials for six Guantánamo captives as alleged Sept. 11 co-conspirators, none of the men has seen a military defense lawyer.

Only one of the six has an assigned lawyer, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Bryan Broyles. But Broyles failed to see his client during a Feb. 13-16 visit to the isolated Navy base.

Lawyer visits will be a key precursor in the Pentagon's bid to put Khalid Sheik Mohammed and five other alleged 9/11 co-conspirators on trial. On Feb. 11, the Pentagon announced plans to simultaneously try the men by military commission -- and to seek to execute them if they are convicted.

But Army Reserves Col. Steve David said so far he had only assigned Broyles to the complex six-defendant case -- to defend Mohammed al Qahtani, a Saudi considered the least valuable captive among the six men.

Broyles blamed the prison camps lawyer, Navy Capt. Patrick McCarthy, for placing obstacles in the path of his bid to meet Qahtani in the company of a civilian lawyer, Wells Dixon, of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The Army colonel told The Miami Herald he went to the base specifically to meet Qahtani and another Saudi war-court candidate, Ahmed al Darbi, with Dixon -- and was thwarted by the military, not the detainees, on both counts.

In a statement, the prison camps spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Rick Haupt, blamed the conflict on defense lawyers -- describing their failure to comply with prison camp bureaucracy and on scheduling conflicts. But, in the end, Haupt said, the bureaucracy issues were ''moot'' because Darbi and Qahtani refused to meet the military defense lawyer at their assigned time.

A core issue is Broyles' bid to have Dixon join the meetings with the men -- who claim brutal treatment in U.S. custody.

Absent an introduction by the civilian lawyer, Broyles said, the detainee might not believe he is there to help in his defense and instead suspect an interrogation trick.

Qahtani was once known as The 20th Hijacker, suspected of failing to join the 19 other suicide bombers in the 9/11 attacks because he was turned away from entry into the United States at an Orlando airport.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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