Office of Military Commissions Update

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Office of Military Commissions Update AMKorotkin 3/7/14 7:29 AM

Dear 9/11 Families,

    In your recent communications with us, many of you have expressed frustration at the pace of our progress in the prosecution of this case.  Karen Loftus, our Director of Victim Witness Assistance, forwards many of your emails to us, and briefs us regarding your concerns.  The entire 9/11 Prosecution Team hears you and we believe you deserve a detailed response.

    In a motion filed on 14 June 2013, the Prosecution asked the Military Judge for a trial scheduling order to set deadlines for defense motions and hold month-long hearings in order to expedite the pace of the proceedings so that the Prosecution’s case-in-chief could begin in September 2014.  The Defense opposed our request and argued that the Military Judge should refrain from setting a trial date until other preliminary matters are addressed by the Commission.  The Military Judge has not yet ruled on our request. 

    In December, the Prosecution felt it was necessary to request a mental competency evaluation be conducted by doctors for one of the five accused in the case who had been disruptive in court and removed from the proceedings on various occasions.  Because this case is a joint trial where all five accused are being prosecuted together at the same time, the Military Judge ruled at that time that no other matters could occur in court for any of the five accused until the mental competency of the one accused was resolved.  In January, following the doctor’s mental competency evaluation, the Prosecution requested the Military Judge hold a mental competency hearing at the hearings already scheduled in April to give both parties an opportunity to prepare.  The first several days of the April hearing will focus on the mental competency of the accused, and then, if resolved, the case will proceed with previously docketed defense motion arguments.

    Regrettably, the time that will need to be taken to ensure the mental competency hearing is legally resolved means that it is very unlikely that we will obtain our requested 22 September 2014 trial request.    Nevertheless, we will continue to urge the Military Judge to set deadlines that will allow us to fairly and efficiently litigate pre-trial motions and proceed to trial without any additional unnecessary delay.  We have attached the most recent scheduling order so you can be kept abreast of the next scheduled pre-trial sessions in the case.

    You have also voiced concerns about the ability of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad to communicate directly to the public with the release of his 36-page letter, published by the Huffington Post.  We filed an emergency motion on Monday, March 3rd that addresses this issue and requests the Military Judge to inquire of the Defense as to how this letter was released, and to take action to ensure that the Commission process cannot be used to inappropriately disseminate propaganda.  We have asked that this matter be taken up immediately following resolution of the mental competency matter.  

    We appreciate the frustration that you feel, we hear you, and we ask you to continue to communicate honestly and directly with us.  Be assured that the 9/11 Prosecution Team is still working day and night in the pursuit of justice for your loved ones and will see this prosecution through to the end.

Brigadier General Mark Martins, Chief Prosecutor
Edward Ryan, Dept. of Justice (DOJ), Trial Counsel
Robert Swann, COL (Retired), Trial Counsel
Jeffrey Groharing, DOJ, Deputy Trial Counsel
Clay Trivett, DOJ, Managing Deputy Trial Counsel
Ms. Joanna Bates, DOJ, Deputy Trial Counsel
MAJ Joshua Kirk, JAGC, USMC
LT Kiersten Korczynski, JAGC, USN
Capt Michael Lebowitz, JAGC, USA
Ms. Nicole Tate, Dept. of Defense (DoD), Assistant Trial Counsel
Ms. Danielle Tarin, DoD, Assistant Trial Counsel