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9/11 Guantanamo Defendants Denied Access to the Internet

Five defendants, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed professed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, are being denied Internet access as they prepare for their death penalty trial. The men are being held at the Guantanamo Bay Naval base for the 9/11 attacks on the United States and are facing charges from conspiracy to terrorism. The no-net ruling was handed down by a US military judge siding with prosecutors who argued at a pretrial hearing last month that providing these “high value” defendants access to extra-prison communications would pose a security risk.

Among the other items refused to the inmates by their captors were printers and the ability to speak with their families by telephone. They were, however, given laptops installed with a legal dictionary, the US Constitution and the Geneva Conventions. Three of the five awaiting trail are representing themselves although the Pentagon is providing standby counsel should they wish assistance.

Is the ruling fair? Can they fairly and adequately prepare without Internet access — or is even considering giving it to them, ridiculous?


raisinette raisinette 9 years
I'm not sure if anyone commenting is an attorney (neither am I), but inmates don't have a right to many services -- a lot is left up to the discretion of the facility. A lack of access to the internet doesn't interfere with an inmate’s right to due process (as far as I know). As long as they can send and receive mail, an inmate can communicate with family members, legal services, or other resources for information. And if they accepted the court appointed defense, their lawyer would be able to do significant legal research on their behalf. If that appointed defense did not do their job and the prisoner can prove it, there are legal avenues to address that situation too. Sorry for the long post, my point is mainly that prison conditions are generally pretty awful, but these conditions rarely interfere with inmates’ rights (a whole other issue in my opinion!). Guantanamo may have been an exception in our efforts to uphold inmates’ rights, but I think in this case there's no violation. Just my thoughts on the issue!
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
They have a lawyer, as it states that in the article. Some of the defendants are choosing to forego legal representation, and represent themselves.
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 9 years
I think the "Law" as we know it doesn't exist in Guantanamo Bay. Prisoners at "real" correctional facilities have lawyers, and access to prison libraries/Internet. I know that there are sites that are block and I believe that they are monitored. To answer the question, can they fairly and adequately prepare without Internet access if they have a laywer yes, but that is neither here nor there because there is no way they are getting a fair trial anyway.
HeidiMD HeidiMD 9 years
Are they actually allowed to have lawyers? I mean, they've been held indefinitely (most likely, this article gives zero specifics), so it wouldn't be much of a leap.
stephley stephley 9 years
Whether they have fools for clients or not, doesn't justify the government from hamstringing their defense.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
"Three of the five awaiting trail are representing themselves although the Pentagon is providing standby counsel should they wish assistance." This sounds like they are choosing to represent themselves, which means they have a fool for a client.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
Wait...these guys have attorneys right? I am a little confused as to why they are preparing their own defenses. However, if they are...certainly a legal dictionary and a copy of the Constitution is going to do jack shit. I don't get why they can't just give them access to Lexis Nexis if they are preparing their own defenses.
stephley stephley 9 years
This helps explain why at least four military prosecutors at Quantanamo have resigned under protest. If we're so certain these guys are guilty, why stack the deck against them? From Sunday's LA Times: "Questions about the fairness of the tribunals have been raised by the very people charged with conducting them, according to legal experts, human rights observers and current and former military officials. Vandeveld's claims are particularly explosive. In a declaration and subsequent testimony, he said the U.S. government was not providing defense lawyers with the evidence it had against their clients, including exculpatory information -- material considered helpful to the defense. Saying that the accused enemy combatants were more likely to be wrongly convicted without that evidence, Vandeveld testified that he went from being a "true believer to someone who felt truly deceived" by the tribunals. The system in place at the U.S. military facility in Cuba, he wrote in his declaration, was so dysfunctional that it deprived "the accused of basic due process and subject[ed] the well-intentioned prosecutor to claims of ethical misconduct."
poissondujour poissondujour 9 years
Meant to add: It is possible to block websites and provide the cases in book form. Are they getting those?
poissondujour poissondujour 9 years
Inmates in prison, regardless of whether it is death penalty or not, have access to full legal libraries and computers. I don't think that they are being provided enough - there is a mass of case law, etc. that they probably need to prepare that the court has denied them. What happened to due process?
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
a little perspective would be helpful here, like, do other death penalty inmates at prisons who are awaiting trial get laptops with internet access? i'm having a hard time feeling sorry for these guys. i know you can block certain websites, but it still seems like a bit much for them to be asking to go online. as for the phone calls to their families, that's something they should have limited access to, right? isn't that normal protocol?
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
oh no they cant play scrabble on facebook, or see how lindsay and samantha are doing! Pffft they dont need the internet.
HeidiMD HeidiMD 9 years
I am actually surprised they got the legal dictionary.
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