Defense attorneys seeking to derail the trial of five men accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks are asking a military judge to order President Barack Obama and former president George W. Bush, Vice President Joe Biden, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Attorney General Eric Holder to testify at the Guantánamo war court.
At issue in the motion unsealed Wednesday evening at the Pentagon is whether accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his alleged co-conspirators can get a fair capital murder terror trial from a military jury of 12 or more U.S. officers.
Attorneys for the accused argue they cannot, citing “widespread pretrial publicity that has included unending prejudicial statements from the highest public officials in the U.S. government.” They are asking the military judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, to acknowledge the political influence in the process and, if not throw out the case entirely, “remove death as a potential sentence” — even before the case is presented to a jury at least a year from now.
“For the past 10 years, through the administrations of two presidents, these accused have consistently been described as ‘thugs,’ ‘murderers,’ and ‘terrorists’ who ‘planned the 9/11 attacks’ and must ‘face justice,’ ” the lawyers argued.
“It can easily be understood by members of the public that this system of military commissions exists solely for the purpose of imposing a death sentence upon these accused.”