During the death penalty tribunal of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, one of his defense lawyers said the word “secret.” Instantly, all feeds from the trial were cut off, and a flashing red light went off in the court gallery, while all sound was muted from the trial for three minutes.
Visibly angry, Judge James Pohl reacted to the censorship alarm by moving into a fully “off-the-record” hearing about who had censored the trial and why. In public comments later, he was light on details, but insisted that it should not have happened.
But it did happen, and who did it, and who even has the power to censor the trial over the objections of the judge are the big questions now, questions the judge declined to answer. He also refused to issue a transcript of what was said during the censored time.
For now the phantom “external body” with the power to shut down trials will go unidentified, but the speculation is clearly that the CIA, which by holding and torturing the defendant for so long, has the power to “review” the feeds from the trial to protect its secrets, and may well have a “kill switch” to shut the trial down for public viewers if they fear it is going the wrong way.
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