Military judge refuses to delay 9/11 cases in Guantanamo

October 1, 2013
NATIONAL SECURITY
Military judge won’t
delay Sept. 11 cases

Legal proceedings against five Guantanamo Bay prisoners charged in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack should go forward, a military judge ruled Tuesday, rejecting a bid to put the case on hold until the Pentagon resolves concerns about computer network security.

Army Col. James Pohl said the steps announced by Pentagon officials to address concerns raised by the defense are adequate to keep pretrial hearings moving for the five prisoners charged with orchestrating the terrorist attack.

The defendants are facing trial by military commission at the U.S. base in Cuba on charges that include nearly 3,000 counts of murder, terrorism and hijacking for their alleged roles planning and aiding the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. They could face the death penalty if convicted.

Pohl heard three days of testimony in August at Guantanamo Bay about security fears that prompted defense lawyers to stop using government e-mail and servers for confidential legal work. Lawyers said data disappeared, and e-mails went astray or were improperly sent to the prosecution.

The next round of pretrial hearings is scheduled for the week of Oct. 21. A trial date has not been set.

— Associated Press

FLORIDA
Airport evacuated for suspicious packages

The Jacksonville International Airport was evacuated Tuesday after police found two suspicious packages and incoming planeloads of passengers were stuck on the tarmac while a bomb squad investigated.

Police found one of the packages in the terminal and another in a nearby parking garage, airport spokesman Michael Stewart said. It wasn’t immediately clear what was in the packages, but the bomb squad from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was still on the scene and investigating late Tuesday night, Stewart said.

“It was determined that because of the seriousness of the situation that they would evacuate the terminal,” Stewart said.

Jacksonville police blocked the entrance to the airport. No flights were allowed to depart.

—Associated Press

GEORGIA
Court allows Navy to build training range

A federal appeals court in Atlanta has cleared the way for the Navy to build a $100 million undersea training range off Georgia and Florida.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, which represents about a dozen conservation groups, had challenged the Navy’s plans, saying war games in that area would pose a risk to right whales, which migrate each winter to the coasts of Georgia and Florida to give birth. Experts say that only about 400 of the whales remain, and that each death brings the species a significant step closer to extinction.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit issued an opinion Tuesday upholding a lower court ruling that said the Navy had appropriately studied whether the location of the range posed a risk to whales. The three-judge panel also agreed that further studies to determine whether certain activities on the range might be harmful to endangered animals could be completed later.

— Associated Press

CALIFORNIA
Copper-cable theft causes school outage

Power was restored to most of the University of California at Berkeley on Tuesday as officials confirmed that the theft of copper cables from a substation caused a campuswide outage that preceded an explosion and evacuation.

The blast occurred Monday night in an underground utility vault outside a building that houses the chancellor’s office. It came as crews were trying to get the electrical system back up following an outage that darkened the campus for several hours.

Investigators have since traced the loss of power to a secluded access point away from the main campus that was damaged last week when someone tried to remove copper grounding cables, a university spokesman said.

A female student was treated at a hospital for minor burns, and three other people who were burned declined treatment. Eleven buildings remained without power. More than 100 classes were canceled.

— Associated Press

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