Five accused masterminds of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks returned to court on Wednesday for the second time during this week’s pretrial hearing at Guantanámo Bay.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other detainees are on trial for allegedly funding, training, and directing the hijacking attacks.
“These are strictly legal motions,” Carol Rosenberg, a reporter for the Miami Herald, said Wednesday on Andrea Mitchell Reports. “It’s not about the 9/11 attacks, that day, the plot, or the scheme.”
On Tuesday, the second day of the hearings, a lawyer from the International Committee of the Red Cross asked the judge not to give defense lawyers copies of confidential communications of the conditions the men were held under by the CIA before they arrived at Guantánamo.
“This is all about setting the conditions for the trial. Who can see what? Who can say what? What can be said in open court? Most importantly, what evidence will be admissible when we get the trial, maybe next year?” Rosenberg said, speaking from Cuba.
The men voluntarily skipped Tuesday’s court appearance because the judge granted them the choice not to appear until their actual trial begins.
“Our government is giving them as fair a trial as anybody would get. I’m proud that’s a statement about our country and the people that we are,” Joe Torillo, a former FDNY firefighter who was temporarily buried in the rubble at Ground Zero, said Wednesday on the show.
President Obama on Wednesday repeated his call to close the prison.
“Even as we remain vigilant about the threat of terrorism, we must move beyond the mindset of perpetual war,” he said during a speech in Berlin. “In America, that means redoubling our efforts to close the prison at Guantánamo.”
Earlier this week the president appointed Clifford Sloan, a high-profile Washington lawyer, to head the State Department’s efforts to close the prison.
But there is no sign closure will happen soon. At Guantánamo, 166 men still languish, more than 100 of them engaged in a months-long hunger strike in protest of their continued detention.
Watch Rosenberg and Torrillo’s interview below: