The five men accused of planning the 9/11 attacks acted out during their 13-hour-long hearing before a military commission yesterday in what one of their lawyers deemed a "coordinated strategy" against an "unjust system." At times, the defendants shouted, prayed, made paper airplanes and one even removed his shirt. Defense lawyers tell the Times that the designation of "contraband" information that may prevent death sentences but may not be used to confer with their clients is crippling their cases.
General Mark Martins, the lead prosector, told the paper that those charges were "a bit misleading," and that the only topics that were off-limits were identities of interrogators and other classified information. Martins also insisted that his team would not use evidence that was "polluted" by the torture committed at the hands of CIA agents.
The Post reports that when one of the defendants, Ramzi Binalshibh, turned around and gave a "thumbs up" sign, 9/11 family members behind the glass partition of the Guantanamo courtroom became distraught, with one shouting, "motherfucker." A defense attorney tells the Times that Binalshibh was actually making that signal to his interpreter, not the family members.
Lee Hanson, who lost his son, daughter-in-law, and two year-old granddaughter when Flight 175 hit the south tower, told the Daily News, “It’s frustrating. I expected them to do what they did today in the courtroom. They have nothing but contempt for Americans and any system of justice.”
As for what to expect as the hearings continue, legal experts appear to be genuinely baffled: “I don’t think anybody has any idea of the specifics because we’re in such uncharted territory,” one former JAG lawyer tells the Daily News. Another expert at Fordham Law adds, “You have to be uncomfortable with all the unknowns."