By Paul Courson
Accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed asserted on Wednesday that the U.S. government sanctioned torture in the name of national security, and compared the scale of the terror attack that killed nearly 3,000 people to the "millions" he said have been killed by America's military.
"Many can kill people under the name of national security, and torture people under the name of national security," Mohammed said during a pretrial hearing at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"This is a resilient definition," he said in open court, as military censors stood ready to interrupt the video and audio.
"Every dictator can put on shoes to step on this definition, every law, every constitution, with this definition any can evade the rule and also go against it," he said.
He also compared the nearly 3,000 victims killed in the 9/11 hijack attacks in New York, Washington and western Pennsylvania to killings he blamed on the American military that he said number in the "millions."
Mohammed at one point also indirectly referred to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed in 2011 in a raid on his Pakistani compound by elite U.S. troops and his body buried at sea.
"I don't want to be long, but I can say the president can throw someone in the sea in the name of national security," Mohammed said.
Military judge Capt. James Pohl granted Mohammed the opportunity to speak.
But when the tone and substance of his remarks were clear, Pohl said he would not allow him or the other defendants in the case to make personal observations about the process.
Mohammed and four other men before the military court are accused of planning and executing the attack.
Pohl has been hearing oral arguments from attorneys representing the government and the defendants on a proposed protective order intended to establish rules over the handling of classified information before and during the trial.
Prosecutors want to keep from public view classified information and also unclassified materials that they consider detrimental to national security. That includes the suspects' knowledge of CIA interrogation methods.
Mohammed, known by his initials KSM, has confessed to organizing the attack, his confession could be called into question during trial.
A 2005 Justice Department memo - released by the Obama administration - revealed that he had been water-boarded in March 2003. The technique, which simulates drowning, has been called torture by Obama and others.
The trial is not expected to start until next summer.