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Hidden Microphones Exposed in Gitmo Pre-Trials

Pentagon, CIA implicated in courtroom surveillance, overreach

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Private meetings between Guantánamo Bay detainees and their defense lawyers have been secretly bugged, a military official admitted Tuesday, saying microphones hidden inside devices that look like smoke detectors are placed in private meeting rooms.

Courtroom sketch by Janet Hamlin showing defense lawyer James Connell, standing at right, interrogating courtroom technology manager Maurice Elkins, top right, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Janet Hamlin, Pool) Navy Capt. Thomas J. Welsh, a staff judge advocate at the base, acknowledged the practice during a pretrial hearing for alleged 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others on Tuesday, confiding that secret audio surveillance within the Echo 2 facility, which contains eight meeting huts for both civilian and military defense lawyers and their clients, exist; however, he attempted to make the case that the military does not actually listen in on the attorney-client conversations.

Defense attorneys continued to express doubts over that claim urging that the ongoing pretrial hearings have been compromised.

Concerns of third party surveillance and censorship have plagued the 9/11 pre-trial hearings—gaining momentum after a Jan. 28 hearing when the sound system in the courtroom was suddenly cut off for outside listeners by a still undisclosed third party censor to the surprise of even the judge, Army Col. James Pohl.

The incident inspired Pohl to green-light an investigation into the defense attorney's suspicions that defendant-attorney conversations have been continually spied on by the same unnamed third party, which has been mysteriously referred to as the "Original Classification Authorities." Kevin Gosztola at FireDogLake has suggested that the OCA "likely works in cooperation with the CIA."

In Tuesday's hearing, a military official also admitted that microphones in the courtroom were powerful enough to pick up on private sidebar discussions between defense lawyers and their clients.

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