Transcript: Gen. Mark Martins on the arraignment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed & 9/11 co-conspirators

Transcript of remarks* by Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, Chief Prosecutor of the Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay, on the arraignments of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 9/11 co-conspirators on May 5, 2012:

(*NOTE: Press conference was held on Sunday, May 6, 2012)

Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, Chief Prosecutor of the Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay, at a press conference on May 6, 2012. SOURCE: Department of Defense / Sgt. 1st Class Robert Stephenson

“Yesterday, charges were publicly announced in a court of law against 5 men who, more than a decade ago, allegedly plotted the deadliest attacks on Americans in our nation’s history.

“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammed Salih Mubarek Bin ‘Attash, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi, whose arraignment here yesterday included the full public reading of charges in their presence, stand now formally accused before a military commission of multiple violations of the law of war in connection with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Those attacks, described by the 9/11 Commission as having caused a day of unprecedented shock and suffering, have been heavily chronicled and their images seared into our collective memory.

“But the process of seeking accountability under law for the crimes of that day remains unfinished.


“Those crimes, as alleged in the charge sheet, consists of conspiracy in the deaths of 2,976 persons; attacking civilians resulting in the deaths of 2,921 civilians; attacking civilian objects; intentionally causing serious bodily injury; murder in the violation of the law of war; destruction of property in violation of the law of war; hijacking of aircrafts; and terrorism.

“There are 21 other named co-conspirators, comprising Osama bin Laden, Mohammed Atef, and the 19 individuals who hijacked 4 commercial airliners on Sept. 11.

“The charges allege that the extensive preparations to implement that Al Qaeda “planes operation” spanned many months and crossed multiple national boundaries. They allege the accused men obtained travel and false identification documents; practiced methods of secreting weapons onto airliners; researched the operations of U.S. air carriers; organized hijacker teams and identified their leaders; arranged for the flight training of pilot hijackers and the combative training of muscle hijackers; opened checking accounts and established lines of credit; prepositioned funds at locations around the globe and in the United States; purchased equipments; transmitted plans and instructions; received reports; and produced martyr and propaganda videos.

“The charges described criminal activity in the context of and associated with hostilities by members of an enemy force that, while flouting longstanding rules of warfare intended to protect innocent non-combatants, was sophisticated, patient, disciplined and lethal.

“I emphasize that the charges for which the accused were arraigned yesterday are only allegations and that before this military commission the accused are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The charges have been referred to a military commission empowered to adjudge the death penalty.

“Let me now address a topic that arises when setting out to hold trial of alleged international terrorists and violators of the law of war.

“Some have questioned why accused persons charged with such crimes and reputed to espouse hateful and destructive beliefs should be given the inevitable public opportunity to speak, or to act out, or to attempt to stage a protest that a trial affords.

“To them, we respond as did Justice Robert Jackson, the chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, when he observed that a trial, if it is to serve its purpose of ‘honestly searching for the facts, bringing forth the best sources of proof obtainable, and critically examining testimony, will of course be bound to become something of a sounding board or stage for an accused person and that nothing more certainly discredits an inquiry than to refuse such an opportunity to an accused. Now, the accused can lose that opportunity through his own actions, and the judge has all the tools necessary to prevent disruption of the proceedings. But to fail to hold a trial, where one can feasibly be held and to see that justice is served, would be a failure to vindicate our values.’

“Justice Jackson was, of course, speaking of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, where Göring and other senior Nazi officials frequently sought to challenge the legitimacy of the proceedings.

“Nor are demonstrations and disruptions strangers to federal court proceedings.

“For example, on June 22, 1999, defendant Wadih el-Hage charged to the bench during a pre-trial conference in the multi-defendant East Africa embassy bombing trials, coming within 4 feet of Judge Leonard B. Sand in the Southern District of New York. Security personnel there – members of the U.S. Marshals Service – restrained the remaining defendants. El-Hage was enraged because Judge Sand would not read aloud a letter el-Hage had written.

“And during jury selection for the penalty phase sentencing trial of Zacarias Moussaoui in the Eastern District of Virginia, Judge [Leonie] Brinkema had to eject Moussaoui four times as Moussaoui engaged in various outbursts, including – and I’m quoting all these – “I am Al Qaeda”, “I am the enemy”, “This trial is a circus”, and calling for the “destruction of the United States, destruction of the Jewish people.” Moussaoui also referred to his 3 attorneys as a “KKK”. Moussaoui was allowed to represent himself for 18 months until his conduct became so obstructionist and his right to represent himself was revoked by the judge.

“The standard for removal in subsequent trial in absentia in both federal and U.S. military courts is Illinois v. Allen. It’s a 1970 Supreme Court opinion, which held that ‘a defendant can lose his right to be present at trial if, after he’s been warned by the judge he will be removed if he continues his disruptive behavior, he nevertheless insists on conducting himself in a manner so disorderly, disruptive, and disrespectful of the court that his trial cannot be carried on with him in the courtroom.’

“If you reflect on it, you’ll see this is a high bar. And courts of law are appropriately careful about employing the ultimate sanction of expulsion, choosing instead to build a patient and methodical record and moving the case forward while preparing the ground for, if necessary, eventual expulsion.

“Here the accused have all been arraigned on 5 May [2012] as scheduled. And the date of the next session is set for the week of 12 June with motions due on 12 May.

“The late night yesterday is nothing unusual for military trial participants who often continue proceedings well into the night so that a jury of members, who are commanders and people in the ranks, can return to those positions the next day. My personal record is at 3:30 a.m. at a court martial in Fort Campbell when the accused, after having been convicted, elected to – he wanted to go into sentencing phase that night and the members needed to get to a field problem the next day and we went on. So nothing usual about that.

“Meanwhile the reading of charges, though unusual and not having been waived, provided a stirring reminder of the importance of the case. For so many determined people involved in this trial, the pursuit of justice is worth every moment spent.

“Speculation about what might or might not happen in federal court is, at this point, just that – unconfirmable speculation.

“The military commission has been referred a case and it must try that case. This forum is a lawful means of subjecting to a vigorous and fair criminal trial those alleged to have violated the laws of war. And it has been endorsed by no fewer than 5 recent enactments of our Congress, signed into law by 2 different Presidents, and of course is overseen by our federal Courts of Appeals, who will ultimately decide all the substantial issues that are raised to it.

“Moreover, reformed military commission fully comply with the international obligation of the United States to ensure that alleged violators of the law of war are tried ‘by regularly constituted courts’ affording all of the judicial guarantees recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

“Indeed, military commissions have long been the U.S. national trial forum for fulfilling our international obligations to provide effective penal sanctions for acts recognized as criminal by all nations.

“Regardless of the previous and ongoing vigorous and healthy debate, the rule of law now compel all of us to get behind the holdings of these military commissions’ sharply adversarial trials and other criminal trials in all circumstances where we can hold them.

“This arraignment was made possible through a decade-long collaborative effort by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and organizations all across our government as well as by valuable assistance from international partners to marshal the evidence on which these charges are based.

“And I note that the prosecution of this case combines trial counsel from the Defense and Justice Departments.

“Within the space defined by our values, we must use all of the instruments of our national power and authority to counter transnational terror network that threaten all peaceful peoples. And this investigation and this prosecution is reflective of that pragmatic but principled approach.

“I also recognize the daily professionalism of the coast guardsmen, sailors, soldiers, marines, and airmen of Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

“For those who lost family or friends on Sept. 11 or who were injured in the attacks, no words are adequate for this moment. But know that however long the journey – and this arraignment is only the start of the legal process that could take many months – the United States is committed to accountability under law for those who have plotted to attack our nation and to kill innocent people.

“I am confident the military commission that was convened here yesterday to try the charges referred to it will answer the call with fairness and with justice.

“Thank you.”

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2 Comments on “Transcript: Gen. Mark Martins on the arraignment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed & 9/11 co-conspirators

  1. Pingback: Transcript: Cmdr. Walter Ruiz's remarks on the arraignment of alleged 9/11 co-conspirator Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi | What The Folly?!

  2. Pingback: Transcript: David Nevin's remarks on the arraignment of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed | What The Folly?!

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