Who decides what the public hears and sees? Is there an invisible hand, unknown to even the military judge, that can switch off audio and video feeds at the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? That was the question Monday on the first day of pretrial motions in the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-professed mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Boise lawyer David Nevin for the defense: Nevin was discussing a motion to preserve evidence from the secret overseas prisons where Mohammed and his fellow defendants were held by the CIA. The motion had been declassified, but Nevin had barely gotten a sentence out when the audio feed to the media centers was smothered in white noise. Then the video was cut. The outage lasted three minutes.
Judge wonders, too: Judge James Pohl, an Army colonel, seemed perplexed as to why Nevin was censored, and by whom.
Mysterious monitor? Nevin and other defense attorneys wanted to know whether some mysterious entity monitoring the proceedings also might be listening to communications between lawyers and their clients. A prosecution lawyer said she could explain what transpired but not in public. Pohl said Monday that if it could be explained in public, he would do so. But on Tuesday, Pohl said the censoring had been a mistake. He did not order a transcript released and he did not explain who has the technical power to cut off the feed.