Sunday, February 01, 2009

Another Family Member Speaks Out on the Gitmo Trials

From the New York Daily News:

My focus that morning was on one of the five men. I could hardly believe my eyes when he came into focus: Khalid Shaik Mohammed, the man who boasted of having masterminded the attacks. He sat there in front of us, preening his beard. Did he seem humbled or chastened? Hardly. He looked like, deep inside, he was laughing in our faces.

What we then saw unfold was less of a trial than a farce. Mohammed dismissed his council - only to call them back. He sat there at the table, in front of his personal computer, complaining about something he had read in The Wall Street Journal - holding up the newspaper for the rest of us to see.

Before long, the scene was overwhelmed by a steady stream of what sounded to me like legal minutiae and trivialities. It was sickening. It was surreal.

I will never forget what interrupted that: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's defense declaring to the court that their client was requesting a cushion because his seat in the van had been too hard. A debate unfolded: the prosecution claimed the cushion had already been provided; the defense insisted he had not received one.

Was this really happening? I went outside for air. My on-base escort followed and asked me what was wrong. "Three thousand people are dead and they are arguing over a cushion," I answered.

Then came a two hour break - one for lunch, the second for the defendants' specially protected hour of prayer.

It wasn't long before the circus resumed. Back at trial, Mohammed burst out with this (according to my notes): "I did it I said I did it! I am proud I did it for jihad!! We say we are guilty just sentence me!"

The words were chilling but something cut even deeper to my core: his gaze. Mohammed turned to make eye contact with us. We stared back.

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