By Tyler Pager and Paige Leskin
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL STATION, Cuba — A military judge said Wednesday he will not halt the trial of the alleged USS Cole bomber even though another judge decided to delay his separate trial of the 9/11 masterminds until a request ordering him to relocate to Guantanamo is rescinded.
Army Col. James Pohl, the judge for the 9/11 trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, said he would not go ahead with proceedings. But Air Force Col. Vance Spath, presiding over hearings in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, said Pohl’s decision, has no bearing on his case in the Cole bombing.
The 9/11 trial consists of the prosecution of Mohammed, the accused planner behind the 2001 terrorist attacks, and four other co-conspirators.
Retired Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary, the civilian responsible for convening military commissions, testified Wednesday on his order to the military judges to physically move to Guantanamo in order to speed up the trials. The defense team for al-Nashiri has argued the order is unlawful influence on the trial.
Ary said Wednesday that he suggested the judges relocate to ensure that the courts could address important national security issues and operate more transparently, following the release of the Senate’s CIA torture report in December. Attorneys on both sides asked Ary to explain his thinking in his recommendation to relocate the judges. The order was passed on to the military judges by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work.
The court also heard Wednesday from Billy Little, deputy chief defense counsel at the Office of Military Commissions. Little said he attended a meeting in October 2014 where Ary discussed the pace of litigation in Guantanamo and his intent for the trials to move forward.
Judge Spath asked al-Nashiri’s attorneys to submit a list of additional witnesses, mutually agreed on by lawyers for both sides, to testify on the motion of the Pentagon’s unlawful influence. The schedule for Thursday would be determined based on the availability of the witnesses, Spath said.