Terrorism Trials: Military Commissions

Al Nashiri #1: Initial Matters and Closed-Circuit TV

By Benjamin Wittes
Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 10:20 AM

By Benjamin Wittes & Ritika Singh

The hearing gets under way at 10:09 am, when Military Judge Col. James L. Pohl takes his seat and takes care of some logistical business. He announces that the defense has withdrawn as moot its motion to abate the proceedings (AE025) because he granted the motion. He also announces that he granted the motion for video feeds (AE028) last week, but will give the defense a chance to be heard on it if it chooses.

The defense asks to be heard briefly. Richard Kammen, Al-Nashiri’s civilian lawyer, says that it is his understanding that members of the general public get only a cursory ID check when they appear at Fort Meade. If that’s the case, he says, it is “certainly appropriate.” In the future, he says, the defense will ask that the proceedings be moved to the D.C. district court to increase ease of access for the general public. The defense says its goal is the widest possible access.

Judge Pohl clarifies that the defense may seek a modification of his order in the future, and affirms that this is the case.

Prosecutor Anthony W. Mattivi notes that the prosecution shares an interest in the widest possible access, and that it was the prosecution’s own motion that opened these hearings up in the first place. He says he looks forward to feedback from the public and press and isn’t sure how the federal court would be more open than Fort Meade is. But he looks forward to seeing the defense’s motion and seeing if the prosecution can join it.