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Pentagon: Key 9/11 suspects face judges at Gitmo

Story Highlights

• Hearings will determine if suspected terrorists can have military trials
• 3 suspected terror planners among 14 to face combatant status review tribunals
• Pentagon: Another high-value detainee scheduled for hearing Monday
• Hearings could take weeks to finish; higher authorities must OK findings
From Mike Mount
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Three suspected terrorists connected with the September 11, 2001, attacks have gone before judicial panels charged with determining whether they can be detained indefinitely, the Pentagon said Monday.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected 9/11 mastermind; Ramzi bin al-Shibh, another key 9/11 planner; and Abu Faraz al-Libby, a top al Qaeda planner, separately appeared before three-judge panels last week, Pentagon official said.

Called combatant status review tribunals, the hearings determine whether detainees should be classified as enemy combatants, who can be held indefinitely and are eligible for military trials.

The men are part of a group of 14 detainees who were once held in secret CIA prisons before President Bush ordered their transfers to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in September.

Al-Libby and al-Shibh attended hearings Friday, while Mohammed faced judges Saturday at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, officials said.

Pentagon officials said another high-value detainee will go through a hearing Monday. The Pentagon did not identify the detainee.

Though similar hearings have been open to the media, last week's hearings were closed to reporters and the detainees' lawyers because of fears that detainees might divulge classified information, the officials said.

The hearings lasted between two and three hours, officials said. It could be weeks before the outcomes are known because the findings must be sent to higher authorities for approval.

All 14 men transferred to Guantanamo in September were given access to military advisers who assist them during hearings but offer no legal assistance. The men are given only an unclassified summary of the evidence against them. They are allowed to call witnesses to testify on their behalf.

The Pentagon has said it would release an edited transcript of each hearing and the unclassified summary of evidence against each detainee after the hearings.

The reports will be edited to prevent the release of information that could jeopardize national security, Pentagon officials said.

The hearings for the 14 terror suspects are expected to last through April, according to Pentagon officials.


Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is suspected of being the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.




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