WASHINGTON - The public should be allowed to hear the five alleged 9/11 conspirators describe what the CIA did to them in secret overseas prisons, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a motion filed at the Guantanamo war court late Wednesday.
"The eyes of the world are on this military commission," the civil liberties group wrote in its motion. It was posted on the court website uncensored and included graphic references to water torture from a leaked International Red Cross report.
At issue is the court system that employs a 40-second delay of the proceedings, time enough to let an intelligence official hit a white-noise button if any of the men describe what CIA agents did to them after their capture in Pakistan in 2002 and 2003 and before their arrival at Guantanamo in September 2006.
The ACLU called the practice censorship, and said it was premised on "a chillingly Orwellian claim" that the accused "must be gagged lest he reveal his knowledge of what the government did to him."
A court security officer used the white noise at an earlier, aborted effort in 2008 and 2009 to put the five men on trial for the 9/11 attacks.
It was not immediately clear whether the war court judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, would rule on the motion before Saturday's arraignment of alleged 9/11 architect Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other Guantanamo captives.
The ACLU's executive director, Anthony Romero, said Thursday that his organization's National Security Project director, Hina Shamsi, was seeking to join a Pentagon flight to Guantanamo on Friday in an attempt to argue the point to Pohl - before the arraignments on Saturday.
The Pentagon had no immediate comment.