By JESS BRAVIN
FORT MEADE, Md.—The Sept. 11, 2001, conspiracy case began at Guantanamo Bay on Saturday as a battle of wills between a military judge and the five defendants, thwarting government efforts to quickly get the prosecution under way.
Hearings will be resumed next month under an order by Col. James Pohl, the presiding military judge in the proceedings being held at the U.S. Naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Closed-circuit feeds were provided to several military installations on the mainland, including this Army installation near Washington.
The arraignment dragged into the night as lawyers for some of the terror suspects demanded a full reading of the lengthy and detailed list of charges against the suspects, a formality that typically is waived.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants face potential death sentences if convicted of the plot that saw four airliners hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.
But Saturday’s arraignment was another demonstration of the complexity of prosecuting the men allegedly involved in the planning of the Sept. 11 airline attacks and underscored predictions that a final resolution is years away, especially because many features of the long-troubled military commissions experiment remain untested before the federal courts. Among them are such fundamental questions of which constitutional rights, if any, the defendants hold.
But one defendant, Ramzi Binalshibh, said at the hearing that the government might not wait that long. It was possible, he said, that his Guantanamo jailers “are going to kill us” and call it a suicide, he said, before Col. Pohl, silenced him for disrupting the proceedings.
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