U.S. Affords Tapes From Bugged Guantánamo Jail Yard as Proof in 9/11 Case

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The federal government has declassified a secret intelligence program that clandestinely recorded jail yard conversations of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who’s accused of being the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults, as prosecutors search to produce proof that might be used at an eventual trial.

The transfer comes as prosecutors have thought of new methods to counter claims by protection attorneys that torture by the C.I.A. contaminated subsequent F.B.I. interrogations of Mr. Mohammed and his accused accomplices to supply confessions the federal government considers its most vital trial proof. It additionally make clear an eavesdropping operation whose existence has till now by no means been formally acknowledged.

In courtroom this week, an Iraqi American translator for the F.B.I. vouched for a transcript of Mr. Mohammed describing how he discovered when the hijackers would strike. It got here in a coded message, in line with a fraction of the transcript proven in courtroom: “Your pal so and so can be married, uh, on Sept. 11.”

The dialog was captured on an almost hourlong recording of Mr. Mohammed talking with one other prisoner at Guantánamo Bay on Oct. 23, 2007. Below a categorised jail program, greater than a dozen suspected terrorists, who had been subjected to years of solitary confinement and tortured by the C.I.A., have been granted an hour of recreation time in earshot of one other remoted prisoner.

By then, Mr. Mohammed was approaching 5 years of detention with out cost or a lawyer. He had been waterboarded, sexually humiliated, sleep disadvantaged and questioned by American interrogators for years, together with by F.B.I. brokers in 2007.

Now, 16 years later, the jail yard recording has been made public.

The timing coincides with efforts by prosecutors within the Sept. 11 case to shore up their proof after a harmful ruling within the different loss of life penalty prosecution at Guantánamo, the Cole case. Each circumstances are in pretrial proceedings, with no date set for jury choice because the navy judges resolve what proof can be utilized at a trial.

In August, a decide within the Cole case excluded confessions made by the defendant, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, throughout F.B.I. interrogations on the wartime jail in 2007. The decide concluded the confessions have been derived from torture, a call that undermined a bedrock prosecution technique in navy fee circumstances at Guantánamo.

The federal government is interesting the ruling. However in response, prosecutors within the Sept. 11 case have instructed their decide, Col. Matthew N. McCall, that they’d name extra witnesses subsequent 12 months to bolster their place that Mr. Mohammed and his co-defendants voluntarily self-incriminated in interviews with F.B.I. brokers in 2007.

Then, this week, it was disclosed in courtroom that the key eavesdropping program had been declassified. Attorneys revealed {that a} authorities intelligence operation had secretly collected conversations of 1 prisoner shouting to a different throughout recreation intervals. It isn’t recognized when the operation was ended, if in any respect.

This system itself had been alluded to although not formally acknowledged. Throughout a decade of pretrial hearings, authorities witnesses would typically point out, mysteriously, the existence of transcripts of “conversations” however by no means disclosed how they have been obtained.

James G. Connell, a lawyer for Mr. Mohammed’s nephew, Ammar al Baluchi, who’s a defendant within the case, mentioned he would problem the admissibility of the audio recordings as derived from merciless, inhuman and degrading therapy.

From 2006 to 2009, he mentioned, the prisoners have been held in solitary confinement and every one was allowed to talk solely with one different prisoner, throughout an hour reprieve from their maximum-security cells.

On the time, prisoners within the custody of a particular unit often known as Job Power Praetorian or Job Power Platinum got recreation time in particularly designated pairs. They have been confined to separate enclosures, that means the prisoners might shout backwards and forwards however not see each other.

Mr. Connell referred to as the recordings the product of a government-devised system of solitary confinement that for years permitted prisoners “a single outlet to speak with one other human being.” The federal government had then “exploited it” for trial functions, he added.

A senior F.B.I. official, Jacqueline Maguire, mentioned in testimony final week that she thought the recreation yards have been being bugged “for pressure safety,” basically to eavesdrop on detainees to safeguard jail employees.

Within the occasion of Mr. Mohammed, his recreation accomplice was Guled Hassan Duran. Mr. Duran, a Somali citizen, was captured in Djibouti in March 2004, and held by the C.I.A. earlier than he was transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006. He has by no means been charged with against the law.

Within the portion of their dialog that was shared in courtroom this week, Mr. Mohammed defined that he discovered that the assaults would happen on Sept. 11 from a customer “who got here to my home in Kandahar,” in Afghanistan.

From there, he mentioned, he went to go to “the sheikh,” an obvious reference to Osama bin Laden, to relay the message. “There have been 20 days left,” Mr. Mohammed mentioned, in line with the transcript. “We have been on, uh, Aug. 20 or so.”