Guns

The trial of alleged September 11 bombing conspirators held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be delayed even further. The new delays center around the U.S. government's secret investigation of the defense attorneys who are representing the accused militants. According to the defense attorneys, the investigation created a conflict of interest between themselves and their clients.

The confidential investigation was triggered after defense attorneys permitted a Guantanamo detainee to send a five-minute message to his family by way of a translator. The incident triggered a joint investigation into the attorneys by the Defense Department, the Justice Department and the FBI. The investigation sought to determine whether national security laws -- which forbade the accused men from exchanging information with unauthorized people -- had been violated.

On Monday, Oct. 26, Army Colonel Judge James Pohl rejected the claims that the investigation created a conflict of interest. However, the judge is also requiring that the defense lawyer be given access to documents pertaining to the investigation, and if the defense believes a conflict of interest exists, then they will be able to file a motion.

Government Investigation May Have Interfered with Defendant's Rights

The Justice Department said that details pertaining to the investigation do not need to remain secret. The defense attorneys had argued that they could represent their clients -- one of whom is Ramzi bin al Shibh -- until they and their clients are able to access and discuss the details of the investigation.

Rambzi bin al Shibh was charged with hijacking, mass murder, terrorism and conspiracy connected to the Sept. 11, 2001, airliner hijackings, which led to the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York, attacks on the Pentagon building near Washington, D.C., and the downing of an airliner in Pennsylvania.

According to bin al Shibh's attorneys, they were investigated on criminal allegations relating to the representation of their client, which makes it appear that a conflict of interest exists. The attorneys assert that the investigation interfered with the constitutional rights of their clients to be represented by an attorney.

Judge Said Investigations Were Routine

Army Colonel Judge James Pohl said that the investigation was a routine procedure that any government contractors or employers could be subjected to. The judge further said that the investigation has been closed and no further action is being taken on it. Although today's ruling appears to have resolved the matter, as mentioned perviously, defense counsel will have the ability to file a motion if they believe a conflict of interest exists for them.

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