The defense lawyers said government intelligence officials, known only to them as the “Original Classification Authority,” have eavesdropped through the microphones at defense counsel tables in the courtroom, through a second “secret” audio feed installed in the courtroom and with microphones hidden in smoke alarms in outside holding cells used for conferences between the defendants and their lawyers.
“The fact someone else is listening, some other government agency is listening, an intel operation of some kind, and that these microphones are capable of picking up everything we say led us to believe the confidentiality of our discussions are at issue here,” said David Nevin, an attorney for alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
Cheryl Bormann, an attorney for Walid bin Attash, an alleged Al Qaeda training camp steward, said there was “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” that the government has been spying on the defense strategy, making a mockery of the military commission process that already has been roundly criticized by defense lawyers and many civil rights organizations.
“I’ve been practicing law for 25 years, and never have I been put in a position to ask whether I’ve been listened to,” she said.
Seeking to quickly dissolve the issue, the chief prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, told the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, that government audio/visual technicians could reprogram the microphones at the defense tables from a “push to mute” to a “push to talk” mode that would protect the confidentiality of defense-client discussions in the future.
Pohl liked that idea, and ordered technicians to make the changes Monday afternoon while court is in recess.