31 Jan 2013

A Red Light at Guantanamo: The Absurdities of the K.S.M. Hearings

The case of the mystery button began like a story about a poltergeist. On Monday, a preliminary hearing in the military commission trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other accused 9/11 conspirators convened at Guantánamo. The courtroom is set up so that spectators behind sound-proof glass can listen to an audio feed with a forty-second delay.

ksm hearing

As Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald describes it, “A red emergency light spins in court when a censor at the judge’s elbow hits the mute button to prevent someone from spilling national security secrets.” At just before 2:30 P.M., David Nevin, one of the defense lawyers, who was addressing a brief having to do with C.I.A. secret prisons, said he understood that “we are going to do this in a 505 and that some portion of this will turn out to be closed or secret.” As he pronounced “secret,” the light began to flash and white noise filled the audio feed, as if it had been a trigger word—even though neither the security officer or the judge had touched the button

Full story on The New Yorker