By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
Sept. 13, 2007 - Defense officials today released the audio file of the March 10 Combatant Status Review Tribunal of terrorist leader Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, who masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In the tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Muhammad admitted to masterminding both the 9/11 attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. A written transcript of the hearing was released in March.
Five pages of the written text of the written transcript were eliminated from the audio file because of the potential impact of the statements in spoken form, including the possibility that sound bites could be used for propaganda or recruiting purposes, a Defense Department official said.
The tribunal was an administrative hearing to determine only whether Muhammad could be designated as an enemy combatant. Muhammad used the opportunity to submit, through an interpreter, a two-part personal statement with 38 terrorism-related admissions.
He pledged his jihad allegiance to Osama bin Laden and admitted to trying to destroy an American oil company in Indonesia owned by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Muhammad also claimed responsibility for the 2001 attempted shoe bombing of American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris.
Muhammad is one of 14 high-value detainees who were transferred Sept. 6 to Guantanamo Bay from CIA custody.
Combatant Status Review Tribunals are one-time administrative processes used to determine whether detainees at Guantanamo Bay can be designated as enemy combatants.
Not all detainees chose to participate in the CSRT proceedings. Whether they participate or not, detainees have a right to a personal representative in the form of a U.S. military officer assigned to assist them and to receive an unclassified summary of evidence in advance of the hearing.
Hearings for the 14 high-value detainees were not open to media because of national security concerns, defense officials said.
The U.S. government established the CSRT process at Guantanamo Bay as a result of a June 2004 Supreme Court decision in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for bin Laden who challenged his detention at Guantanamo Bay. All detainees at Guantanamo Bay have been through the CSRT process, and dozens have been found to longer be enemy combatants and released or transferred to their home countries.