By Paul Courson
The pretrial hearing for accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged co-conspirators was focused for much of Tuesday morning on the detainee dress code.
The hearing at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was broadcast via closed circuit television to victims' families and the news media at Fort Meade, Maryland.
The defense challenged a practice by the jailers to ban certain types of clothing. In oral arguments on a motion to clarify a dress code for detainees while they are in the courtroom, prosecutors said the ban was part of preserving decorum and respect for the venue, and also one of security.
The judge agreed to ban articles of clothing that resembled current American military uniforms, and said detainees, if they choose, must wear prison uniforms that match their status as detainees. This precludes the "orange prison jumpsuit" popularized by activists during anti-Guantanamo demonstrations, unless such clothing is used for that detainee.
But the judge refused to accept other restrictions, such as the government's contention that too many layers of clothing might delay restraining a detainee during an outburst in court. He also did not support prosecutors, who had filed papers suggesting headscarves and other coverings could allow "vehicles for propaganda," and provocation for other detainees and confederates.
At Tuesday's hearing, defendant Ramzi Binalshibh was wearing a bright pink headscarf and wrap that flowed down across his shoulder and chest, in stark contrast to the plain beige color of the rest of his clothing.
The judge made clear the dress code applied only to his courtroom, and that U.S. military jailers had final say-so on detainee attire during detention and transport. This raised the prospect of detainees changing into their selected courtroom garb once they are brought to the facility where the proceedings are held.
The judge said he would review any future requests by U.S. military officials to restrict proposed attire.