Terrorism Trials & Investigations

Statement by Defense Counsel on Effort to Obtain CIA Black Site Evidence in 9/11 Case

By Wells Bennett
Monday, June 30, 2014, 3:44 PM

Detailed defense counsel for Ammar al Baluchi, also known as Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, had the following to say today, about a key filing in the 9/11 case:

Today, counsel for Ammar al Baluchi filed a motion to compel the government to produce evidence of CIA torture of Mr. al Baluchi, following a similar order in the USS Cole case.

“Torture affects the government’s whole case,” says James Connell, a lawyer for Mr. al Baluchi.  “Torture has corrupted everything in the military commissions. It touches everything: pretrial confinement, tainted interrogations, the reliability of witness statements, and ultimately whether or not the United States can sentence Mr. al Baluchi to death.”

On April 14, 2014, Judge Pohl issued an Order in the USS Cole case, United States v. al Nashiri, stating that the government had to turn over ten categories of information relevant to Mr. al Nashiri’s time in the CIA’s RDI program, in effect revealing to the defense the entire history of his torture.  On April 16, 2014, Mr. al Baluchi filed a discovery request seeking the same ten categories of torture information.  On Wednesday, June 25, 2014 , Judge Pohl denied the government’s request that he reconsider his original order, leaving the government the option to comply or continue with an interlocutory appeal.

“The government is at the proverbial fork in the road,” said Lt Col Sterling Thomas, USAF, military defense counsel for Mr. al Baluchi. “What is more important to the United States, the pursuit of meaningful justice and the rule of law, or the continued cover-up of its illegal torture program? Judge Pohl’s order signals the government’s days of having it both ways on torture are numbered.”