Military judge Army Col. James Pohl has advanced the claim against five Guantanamo Bay prisoners who were charged with nearly 3,000 counts of murder, terrorism and hijacking, in their alleged involvement in 9/11. Facing trial by military commission at the U.S. base in Cuba, all five defendants could face the death penalty if convicted.
In advancing the claim, Pohl rejected the defense's bid to stall the case until the Pentagon resolves concerns about computer network security. The defense's security fears specifically relate to confidential legal work being exchanged via government email.
This past August, Pohl heard three days of testimony at Guantanamo Bay in which defense lawyers testified to the disappearance of data and the improper delivery of emails. Defense attorneys claimed that not only is their private legal research being monitored, but that some emails are being sent directly to the prosecution. Defense teams are now reportedly using external hard drives and personal email as a more secure alternative.
In response to such apprehensions, prosecutors deemed the defense's qualms 'overblown'. Pohl then determined that enough progress had been made with respect to the security measures to proceed with the case. The Department of Defense nonetheless agreed to address the ongoing security issues in the coming weeks.
This is not the first roadblock to surface in the case; since the defendants were transferred from a secret CIA prison to Guantanamo in 2006, Pohl has repeatedly been faced with barriers both legal and political.
While a trial date has not yet been set, the next round of pretrial hearings is scheduled to begin Oct. 22.