Defense attorneys for five accomplices of the 9/11 hijackers now imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base said Sunday that a military tribunal judge secretly granted the Pentagon permission to dismantle a CIA “black site”, where defendants were formerly held.
“Black sites” were essentially overseas detainment camps in operation between 2002 and 2006, where suspected terrorists were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques”, including waterboarding, anal abuse and other methods to extract information.
Lawyers for the five individuals in question were seeking to document one particular CIA prison in-person, but the presiding judge instead only allowed prosecutors to disclose Top Secret images and outlines of the site to the defense teams.
The site has since been decommissioned and stripped of its “fixtures”, which one defense lawyer said were most likely torture “contraptions or devices.”
Chief prosecutor in the case, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, defended the judge’s ruling on Saturday.
“We’re not going to let an individual criminal defendant . . . mortgage the whole future of the country in one case, because they’ve got something that could force government officials to try to figure out how to accommodate it,” Gen. Martins said. “We’re not allowed [by law] to compromise national security just to get to a result in a case.”
Two other Top Secret filings with a tribunal court were also recently declassified which show that government prosecutors filed motions in the 9/11 and USS Cole death penalty cases for permission to decommission the CIA black site where the six defendants were held.
Defense attorneys had filed counter-motions requesting the 9/11 case judge not comply with the government’s request, but the prosecution informed the defendants’ lawyers in February that the site had since been destroyed.
The defense teams now say that prosecutors in the case held a secret meeting with tribunal court judge, Army Col. James Pohl, who approved the site’s destruction — an action allowed by the Manual for Military Commissions, according to Gen. Martins.