Military judge approves destruction of ‘black site’

Military judge James Pohl ruled Jan. 19 that no wrongdoing occurred when he authorized the destruction of a CIA secret prison, or "black site," despite the fact that a protection order was in effect on any remains from the CIA black sites. Prosecutors, citing national security powers, obtained permission from the judge to give defense attorneys photographs and a diagram of the site as a substitute for preservation the actual facility. According to Pohl, defense attorneys failed to show that "the physical evidence is of such central importance to an issue that is essential to a fair trial, or that there is no adequate substitute for the physical evidence." According to the Miami Herald, from 2002-2006, prisoners at the black site were subjected to waterboarding, sexual abuse, and other forms of torture.

The question concerned the admissibility of evidence possibly extracted by torture in the 9-11 case now underway at Guantánamo Bay. Pohl also postponed a pre-trial hearing to determine the admissibility of such evidence.

The 9-11 trials have met with numerous delays. In 2016 Pohl refused  to let 9-11 defendant Walid bin Attash fire his entire defense team. In 2015 the Pentagon overturned a rule that would have forced military judges hearing the case to actually relocate to Guantánamo.

From Jurist, Jan. 23. Used with permission.

Photo: Wikimedia

  1. Gitmo judge overseeing 9-11 cases announces retirement

    Army Col. James Pohl, the military judge overseeing the 9-11 cases, announced his retirement Aug. 27, before completion of the trials that began in May 2012 and have seen numerous delays. "I have made a personal decision not to request an additional voluntary retiree recall and thus I will leave active duty after 38 years," Pohl wrote in a memo to Colonel Keith A. Parrella, announced as his successor. "To be clear, this was my decision and not impacted by any outside influence from any source." (Jurist)