Guantanamo Defense Lawyers To Tour Top-Secret Camp

Feb 21, 2013
Originally published on February 22, 2013 10:26 am
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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

For the first time, defense attorneys in the September 11th terrorism case will get to see the cells where their clients are held. The Army judge presiding over the trial at Guantanamo Bay is allowing lawyers to visit a secret section of the prison known as Camp 7. Here's NPR's Dina Temple-Raston on today's ruling.

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: Camp 7 is nestled in the crevice of a hill at Guantanamo Bay. And it's considered so secret that the only time outsiders see it is on approach to the airfield at the naval base. Even then, military officials won't confirm that's where detainees like the alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-defendants are being held because, officials say, even the location of Camp 7 is classified.

So it was a little surprising today when Colonel James Pohl, the judge in the 9/11 case, said he would allow the defense to see Camp 7 up close. He said that three members of each 9/11 defense team could visit the secret section of the camp one time for no more than 12 straight hours.

As the details of the visit are worked out, defense attorney say the judge's ruling gives them a rare opportunity to spend time with their clients outside the confines of a courtroom or an interview room. And that, according to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's lawyer, David Nevin, is critical in death penalty cases.

DAVID NEVIN: It is a duty of a capital defender to develop a relationship of trust through interactive dialogue with the client. That's the standard of care, that's how you begin.

TEMPLE-RASTON: The defense had asked the judge for even more access to their clients, to be able to spend 48 hours, including overnights, in prison with them, and to do that every six months. The prosecution objected, saying it was too disruptive at the detention center. The judge agreed. The defense also wanted to interview guards. And the judge said no to that too. Dina Temple-Raston, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.