KSM Speaks in Secret Hearing at GITMO

The man the Bush administration and other authorities around the world have long said masterminded the suicide hijackings of 9/11 apparently confessed during a secret hearing held recently by military officials at Guantanamo Bay that, indeed, he “was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z.”

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) also said he was tortured by CIA operatives after being captured in 2003 and, according to a report by The New York Times, the once chief aide to Osama bin Laden, made various other rambling statements, including one in which he described his actions were part of a military campaign and another claiming that he was “not happy that 3,000 [had] been killed in America.”

While KSM said, “I feel sorry even. I don’t like to kill children and the kids,” he apparently — according to the redacted version of the hearing’s transcript leaked by the Pentagon and posted on the Web site of The New York Times — also said that “the language of war is victims.”

The quotes from KSM, who was moved to Guantanamo last September after being captured in 2003 in Pakistan and held in secret CIA prisons, were made during what the Defense Department calls a Combatant Status Review Tribunal. The tribunals, which are preliminary in nature and are described on the Defense Department Web site, are given to all detainees held at Guantanamo to determine whether they are “enemy combatants” eligible for trial in the future by a special war crimes commission (or tribunal).

While the Bush administration has wrangled for years with Congress and the Supreme Court over the establishment of the special war crimes tribunal, recent developments — explained in a World Politics Review exclusive on the subject — indicate the tribunal is expected to go forward in the coming months.

Now, observers are waiting for KSM and other men the Defense Department calls “High Value Detainees” to be charged.

As for his appearance recently in the secret preliminary review tribunal, according to the Pentagon transcript posted by the NYT, KSM comes off as lucid and even talking with an air of superiority. At one point he appears to criticizing the Defense Department’s poorly organized presentation of unclassified evidence against him and complains that his name was misspelled on the evidence file.

“There is an unfair ‘stacking of evidence’ in the way the Summary of Evidence is structured,” he says. “In other words, there are several subparagraphs under parent-paragraph 3 which should be combined into one sub-paragraph to avoid creating the false perception that there are more allegations or statements against me specifically than there actually are … Lastly, my name is misspelled in the Summary of Evidence. It should be S-h-a-i-k-h or S-h-e-i-k-h, but not S-h-a-y-k-h, as it is in the subject line.”

Later, KSM speaks in a similar tone when asked by the head of the review panel about a claim he had previously made about being “tortured” at the hands of CIA interrogators who handled him sometime between his capture in 2003 and his transfer to Guantanamo last year.

The head of the panel asks KSM: Is there anything you would like to correct, amend, modify or explain to us from what you said back then?

KSM Responds: I want to just it is not related enemy combatant but I’m saying for you to be careful with people. That you have classified and unclassified facts. My opinion to be fair with people. Because when I say, I will not regret when I say I’m enemy combatant. I did or not I know there are other but there are many Detainees which you receive classified against them maybe, maybe not take away from me for many Detainees false witness. This is only advice.

Editor’s note: WPR Senior International Editor Guy Taylor will visit Guantanamo Bay at the end of March on a reporting trip, so stay tuned for more.

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