FORT MEADE — The lead attorney for the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks said Thursday he might withdraw from the case unless the judge orders the government to divulge details about FBI investigations of defense team members.
Civilian defense attorney David Nevin said during a pretrial hearing in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that the possibility that defense team members are working with the FBI has strained his relationship with client Khalid Sheikh Mohammed of Kuwait. The proceedings are video streamed to a room at Fort Meade for journalists.
“It is an extremely extraordinary and singular thing that the FBI tried to invade my defense camp, and it’s astonishing to me and I have no idea why they did it,” Nevin said.
He asked the U.S. Military Commissions judge, Army Col. James Pohl, to reconsider his July 24 ruling that the FBI’s actions posed no potential conflict of interest in Mohammed’s case. The ruling was based partly on a special review team’s finding that the FBI was no longer investigating anyone.
Pohl said his order will remain in effect through another pretrial hearing Oct. 13-17 for the five Guantanamo detainees accused of plotting the 2001. Teams hijacked and crashed four commercial jetliners, one each into the twin towers at the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon outside Washington and a field in western Pennsylvania, killing 2,976 people.
Kevin Driscoll, a federal prosecutor on the special review team, discounted Nevin’s speculation about an FBI mole among defense team support staff.
Driscoll said the review team had conducted “extensive searches of FBI holdings.” He assured the judge, “there is no FBI investigation of defense team members, and there is no poison pill or mole in the defense team.”
Little is publicly known about the two reviews. Lawyers say the FBI questioned an investigator and a classified material analyst for the team representing defendant Ramzi Binalshibh of Yemen; an investigator for defendant Mustafa al-Hawsawi of Saudi Arabia; and a translator on the team representing Mohammed.
Pohl couldn’t rule out a conflict of interest in Binalshibh’s case. Al-Hawsawi’s lawyers have said they don’t believe they have any conflict in continuing to represent him.
The other defendants are Walid Mohammed Bin Attash of Yemen and Ali abd al-Aziz Ali of Pakistan. All five have been at the Guantanamo prison since September 2006.