Military Tribunal At Guantanamo Pentagon Building New Secret Courtroom at Guantánamo Bay. The Pentagon is developing a second courtroom at Guantánamo Bay for war crimes proceedings that will be closed to the public, marking the latest step toward secrecy in the almost two-decade-old detention facility.
Beginning in 2023, the new courtroom will allow two military judges to hear cases at the same time.
The new $4 million chambers would be used for smaller situations. The public would be provided with a delayed video transmission in a different facility if they wanted to witness the events at Guantánamo.
It’s the latest step away from openness in the base’s already closed-off national security investigations, where the military and intelligence services have limited what the public can view. This includes prohibiting reporters from photographing areas that were formerly frequently exhibited to visitors, as well as designating both occupied and empty wartime prison buildings off-limits.
Members of the public witnessing the proceedings live in Guantánamo’s current war courtroom, which opened in 2008, hear the audio on a 40-second delay, giving the judge or a security officer ample time to silence the sound if they feel something classified has been stated.
In January 2013, observers in the gallery were able to see an Army judge’s bewildered expression as the CIA shut off video feeds of the proceedings remotely. Guards brought an obstinate defendant into court tied to a restraint chair, with a soldier following after carrying his prosthetic leg, as only watchers in the chamber could see.
A medical bed was brought up inside the courtroom in 2018 for a crippled defendant who could not be seen on video feeds.
The new courtroom, however, lacks such a gallery as a cost-cutting measure. The new chamber will only be accessible to those with a top-secret clearance, such as members of the intelligence community and specially approved guards and attorneys.
The plan does, however, allow for a scenario of two death penalty cases being tried at the same time. In the Sept. 11 case, reporters and victims would watch live. But family members and shipmates of the 17 sailors killed in the Qaida suicide attack of the destroyer Cole off Yemen in 2000, who routinely attend sessions, would be kept away from the court with other observers, watching video feeds.
GITMO: Where They Go One, They Go All To Tribunal
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Military Tribunal At Guantanamo Pentagon Building New Secret Courtroom at Guantánamo Bay