At Gitmo hearing, do clothes make the man?


Courtroom sketch of the five Guantanamo prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 attacks, back row from left, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, Ramzi Binalshibh, Walid bin Attash and the alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. (Janet Hamlin/Associated Press)

Western-style suits, pockets vs. no pockets, weather-appropriateness, color choice, camouflage, and uniforms were among the topics debated, after which the judge presiding over the military tribunal ultimately ruled that the defendants could wear camouflage to the proceedings, but they couldn’t wear U.S. military garb.

Seems Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and Walid bin Attash had wanted to wear uniforms that made them appear less like civilians to bolster their cases, much like defendants in regular court shun orange jumpsuits to avoid looking guilty.

And in a related matter, Mohammed appeared at the proceedings with his beard dyed with henna to a bright red (the AP described the shade as “rust,” prompting speculation about the availability of grooming products in the facility.

The sartorial conversation, though, took over a good chunk of the hearing on Tuesday. “I don’t think we need to argue this broadly about him going down to the clothing store and checking out the rack,” a defense attorney argued at one point in an attempt to rein it in.

Gives new meaning to the old adage about clothes making the man.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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