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Day Two of Military Commission Hearings: Something Old, Something New

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Military Commissions Judge James L. Pohl

The second day of pre-trial hearings of the Military Commissions against the five key alleged 9/11 bombing perpetrators brought both a repeat of the disruptive behavior of one defendant and new complaints by the attorneys of the five defense teams over the systematic logistical and legal challenges that they face in attempting to defend their clients in this highly secretive and still-evolving legal structure.
 
Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, who on Tuesday was ordered removed from the courtroom by Military Commissions Chief Presiding Officer Judge James L. Pohl in both the morning and afternoon for disrupting proceedings with complaints about his treatment, was at it again during both the morning and afternoon court sessions on Wednesday.  At issue: his complaints against the prison guards at GTMO's "High Value Detainee" Camp Seven, whom he claims continue to make vibrations and noise that deprive him of sleep.  
 
As al-Shibh did yesterday, he on Wednesday verbally attacked Judge Pohl again, challenging his ability to control GTMO prison operations.  Said al Shibh: “I have to leave. I asked you to stop these noises, vibrations. I don’t want to stay here as long as there is torture there" adding "If there is no power to stop this you should resign.”  Returning after the lunch break, al-Shibh was at it again almost immediately, shouting at Judge Pohl as well as Army Col. John Bogdan, the GTMO prison warden, whom he called a war criminal.

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U.S. Army Colonel John Bogdan

While Judge Pohl warned al-Shibh's attorney, Lieutenant Commander Kevin Bogucki, that his client's outbursts cannot continue, Bogucki argued that al-Shibh's protestations were to a single point (his present treatment) and were worthy of further consideration of the court.  Bogucki filed a formal motion on the matter that would allow al-Shibh to speak on the current abuse -- and Judge Pohl promised to consider the motion on Thursday morning.

As mentioned, the focus of the defense teams at this preliminary stage of deliberations is identifying for Judge Pohl areas where they believe that military prosecutors -- and, quite separately, Joint Task Force (JTF) jailers, headed by Colonel Bogdan, are systematically depriving their clients of a fair defense.  
 
Colonel Bogdan, who was brought to the stand at the request of the defense team, was grilled for four hours.  At issue were Joint Task Force procedures governing how and when attorneys can access their clients and in what number, how attorney-client written and oral communications are protected, and how and where issues of enhanced interrogation techniques (IET) can be raised by the defendants themselves and their defense teams in the context of these legal proceedings.

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