Comptuer Glitches Hurt Sept. 11 Terror Case, Lawyers Say
Lawyers for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other accused plotters of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon told a military judge that faulty government computers are damaging their defense.
“We’ve lost files,” said Cheryl Bormann, a lawyer representing Walid bin Attash, a Yemeni alleged to have helped pick and train the hijackers of the Sept. 11 attacks.
As many as 55 investigative files have gone missing for about five months because of defective computer systems, Bormann said yesterday. “Now my e-mails don’t always get to me,” she said. “It’s mind-boggling how difficult this job has become.”
As a week of pretrial hearings wrapped up yesterday, defense lawyers asked to postpone future hearings until computer issues are resolved.
Army Major Jason Wright, who represents Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the attacks, said computer defects that he called “a hot mess” prevent defense attorneys from using the computers “for any constructive purpose.”
Clayton Trivett, a prosecuting attorney, said the defense lawyers have filed so many motions that it’s evident they can do their jobs effectively.
The judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, said he will hold hearings next month to get more details before deciding whether to grant a delay.
The computer predicament is just one of myriad procedural and logistical challenges that have slowed proceedings in the biggest terrorism case in U.S. history.
Mohammed and four others are accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks that used hijacked passenger airplanes to kill almost 3,000 people at the World Trade Center in Manhattan and the Pentagon in Virginia, as well as aboard a plane that crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania.
The defendants are charged with conspiring to finance, train and direct the 19 hijackers who seized the four planes, as well as terrorism, hijacking aircraft, conspiracy, murder in violation of the laws of war and attacking civilians. A trial is at least a year away.
To contact the reporter on this story: David Lerman in Fort Meade, Maryland, at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bloomberg reserves the right to edit or remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.