Case Coverage: 9/11 Case

Yesterday at Guantanamo, 10/21 Session: Hearing Canceled as Translators “Can’t Do Two Things at One Time”

By Zack Bluestone
Thursday, October 22, 2015, 8:50 PM

Camp Justice was quiet yesterday. Based on the need for translators to complete a last-minute assignment, Judge Pohl cancelled a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Wednesday in the military commission trial of five Guantanamo Bay detainees accused of orchestrating the September 11th attacks.

As Francesca discussed in her post yesterday, the first two 9/11 commission hearings this week took an unexpected detour after detainee Walid Bin Attash raised the possibility of representing himself pro se. On Tuesday, Judge Pohl issued a conduct order to defense counsel, detailing the advice he would give a detainee on the benefits and drawbacks of self-representation. Based on defense counsel’s uncontested request that Arabic translations of the order be made available to their clients, Judge Pohl canceled Wednesday’s session to allow court translators to complete this task.

In Judge Pohl’s own words:

Since we last met, just to put it on the record, on Tuesday afternoon the defense filed a request that the court conduct order addressing the issue of pro se representation be translated into Arabic. The government did not oppose that request.

Due to the resources here, that task was to be accomplished yesterday, and that’s why we did not meet yesterday, because the translators had a choice of either doing that task or, if we’re in court, they get involved here, so they can’t do two things at one time, which is the reason why we did not have a session yesterday.

The 9/11 military commission reconvened as scheduled today, and we’ll have a summary of that session for you shortly.