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article imageFBI may have enlisted member of defense team at Guantanamo

By Ken Hanly     Apr 14, 2014 in World
Washington - A military tribunal trial was thrown into confusion when it was revealed that a member of a defense team may have had a contract with the FBI
After only a little more than thirty minutes into a hearing to determine if defendant Ramzi bin Al Shibh was mentally competent to stand trial Judge James Pohl who oversees the military commission halted proceedings when the allegations were made that a member of a 9/11 defendant's defense team had been contracted to be a secret informant for the FBI.
The FBI wants to determine how a manifesto written by the accused 9/11 architect was released to the media. The defense attorney's argued that they were in a potential interest conflict since they could be called upon to defend themselves in a leak investigation and could very well put their own interests above those of their clients.
The attorney's urged Pohl to investigate and if necessary to assign the clients new independent counsel as well as advising them of the implications of the attorneys' potential conflict of interest. James Harrington who is a civilian attorney for Ramzi bin al-Shibh said; “We have an impossible situation in terms of representing our client … on any issue. To say this is a chilling experience for all of us is a gross understatement,”
Walter Rutz who is an attorney for co-defendant Mustafa Ahmed al-Hasawi said that on April 6 two FBI agent approached the defense security office who had been assigned to bin al-Shibh's defense team. The document in effect sought to enlist members of the defense to help them in an inquiry into the leak of the manifesto mentioned earlier. Harrington said the unnamed security officer had signed the document.
The security officer is a non-lawyer who advises the defense team on how to handle classified information. The officer would have unlimited access to the defense files of his team according to Harrington. An attorney for another co-defendant Walid bin Attash Cheryl Bormann said that she and her colleagues had no way of knowing if other members of the defense team had also been enlisted to inform on other team members.
A defense security officer is a non-lawyer assigned by the commission’s convening authority to advise the defense team on the handling of classified information, among other issues. The officer would have had “unlimited access to our files,” Harrington said, although not to those of the other legal teams.
Cheryl Bormann, an attorney, for co-defendant Walid bin Attash, indicated that the officer signed the FBI document, and warned that she and her colleagues had no way of knowing if other members of the 9/11 defense teams had been similarly been covertly enlisted to inform on their colleagues. She and other lawyers said the question effectively paralyzed their ability to represent their clients. She said: “I cannot advise Mr bin Attash that there is conflict-free counsel now, because I quite honestly don't know that there is. I know I've done nothing wrong, but I can't vouch for anybody else on my team. I can't vouch for anybody else in this joint defense,”
Back in January it was revealed that the CIA secretly was monitoring courtroom proceedings: Mystery solved, if there was any doubt: It was the CIA that hit the mute button in the war court earlier this year when a defense lawyer for the accused 9/11 mastermind began talking about the CIA’s secret overseas prisons, the lawyer said Monday.
The Jan. 28 episode so embarrassed Army Col. James Pohl, the judge in the Sept. 11 terror case, that he ordered the kill switch unplugged, an order the agency apparently honored because no outside entity has censored the court since.
Last year it was revealed that emails sent by the defense were provided to the prosecution "in error":The military justice system at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which has been dogged by charges of secret monitoring of proceedings and defense communications, became embroiled in a fresh controversy Thursday when it was revealed that hundreds of thousands of defense e-mails were turned over to the prosecution. There are reports that there is a special operation called Red Wolf through which communications are monitored by Guantanamo authorities.
More about Cia, guantanamo military tribunals, Ranzi Binalshibh
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