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9/11 cases: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed speaks in court, lectures judge

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Mohammed added: “I don’t want to be long, but I can say the president can take someone and throw him in the sea under the name of national security.” The comment was an apparent reference to the burial at sea of former Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US Special Forces in a raid last year.

“My only advice to you,” Mohammed said, addressing the judge, “is that you not be affected by the crocodile tears, because your blood is not made of gold, and ours out of water. We are all human beings.”

Mohammed had missed a portion of the morning session after exercising his recently granted right to waive his presence at the military commission proceedings. Three others also chose to skip the hearing on Wednesday.

But Mohammed announced later in the morning that he changed his mind. He was ushered into the courtroom after the lunch break. During the afternoon session he wore a camouflage vest, adding paramilitary flair to the short, bearded defendant’s appearance.

There was no prior warning that Mohammed had something to say. His lawyer, David Nevin, announced to the judge that his client wished to address the court.

In most cases, a defendant would be rebuffed and told to put his comments in a legal motion or a letter. But in this instance, Judge Pohl decided to let him talk.

Afterward, the judge made clear that there would be no future opportunities for defendants to address the court.   

“We need to make something clear here,” Pohl said with more than a trace of irritation in his voice. “This is a one-time occurrence. If the accused wish to represent themselves as attorneys that is one issue, but however heartfelt, I am again not going to entertain any personal comments by the accused.”

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