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Guantanamo Trials Delayed Amid Charges of Government Intrusion

The Guantanamo war crimes tribunals have been delayed once again, after case related files went missing from the defense team’s systems, and hundreds of thousands of documents, including attorney-client communications, were discovered on the systems of prosecutors.

The latest developments add to the previous allegations of underhand activities, including courtroom monitoring, secret surveillance, and trash searches. Earlier this year, a military lawyer confirmed that microphones were hidden inside fake smoke detector, and then were placed in rooms used for meetings by the defense team.

The fact that 540,000 defense documents landed in the hands of the prosecution led one attorney to question the state of security after Col. Karen Mayberry, who is chief military defense counsel, ordered all detainee layers to stop using Defense Department networks to transmit sensitive documents or other information.

“Is there any security for defense attorney information? This new disclosure is simply the latest in a series of revelations of courtroom monitoring, hidden surveillance devices and legal-bin searches,” commented James Connell, an attorney for 9/11 defendant Ali Abdul Aziz Ali.

Adding to the problems, the defense also questioned the loss of, as one attorney put it, “months of work” due to a network upgrade by the Defense Department. According to reports, they were attempting to mirror D.C. system available to defense teams there at Guantanamo. The attempt wasn’t all that successful, resulting in the loss of documents related to several cases.

“Entire files, months of work was just gone... I have no evidence of any nefarious conduct, but it demonstrates again that we don’t have confidence that our files and communications are secure,” Navy Cmdr. Stephen C. Reyes told the Washington Post.

Reyes is an attorney for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who stands accused of organizing the USS Cole bombing.

Addressing the most recent delays and problems, Daphne Eviatar, speaking for Human Rights First said that the situation is “...further evidence that the military commission system is a sham and that all terrorism trials should be held in real U.S. federal courts on U.S. soil, where the rules are clear, defendants' rights are respected and the verdicts will have credibility.”

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.