U.S. News


Defense Lawyer Calls 9/11 Suspect's Case A 'Show Trial'

Jason Wright, former defense lawyer for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, says the deck is stacked against his former client.
Posted at 7:45 PM, Sep 01, 2014

The military lawyer who spent nearly three years representing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Guantanamo detainee and so-called "mastermind" of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, recently resigned from the Army — and had a few choice parting words for the military. (Video via National Religious Campaign Against Torture)

In an interview with NPR, ex-Maj. Jason Wright, who left the Army Aug. 26, described the case against his former client as a “show trial.” (Video via CNN)

"The U.S. government is trying to call this a fair trial, while stacking the deck so much against the defense and the accused that it can hardly be called a fair trial in any system in the world."

Wright was assigned to defend Mohammed in Dec. 2011. Mohammed is slated to face a military tribunal for his alleged role in the 9/11 attacks and could get the death penalty if convicted. (Video via YouTube / Global Rev Live and DC Media Group)

Wright has been openly critical of how the trial is being handled by the government. In 2013, he told The Independent, “This is not a trial. It is an attempt to legitimise a death threat.”

But earlier this year, Wright says he was effectively forced off of the case when he was ordered to complete a 9-month class required for promotion. The army rejected his request for a deferral, leaving Wright with two options.

WRIGHT VIA MSNBC: "I could either voluntarily attend the graduate course, or I could resign. … Having been on the case for several years at that point, I have both a legal and an ethical duty to see the case to its conclusion."

Wright’s resignation, announced back in April, is hardly the first controversy to plague the Guantanamo trials.

Prosecutors have been accused several times of interfering with the defense team, including one instance of alleged eavesdropping via bugged prison meeting rooms.

And in 2013, proceedings in the Mohammed trial were briefly interrupted when a “censorship button” cut off press access to the hearing, raising questions about who’s running the trial.

It’s gotten to the point where the families of 9/11 victims are criticizing the government’s handling of the case. The sister of one victim described the federal proceedings as "a well-orchestrated snafu."

AForeign Policy writer blames the delays on the CIA’s torture of Guantanamo detainees. "Had the government simply come clean on these abuses and not tried to cover them up by classifying them as top secret, [the delays] may never have occurred."

Spokesmen for the Defense Department and the Army have responded to Wright’s most recent interview, saying Wright’s reassignment orders were meant solely to further his career, and did not impact his former client’s right to due process.