Guaantánamo war court prosecutors filed fresh death penalty charges against five men for allegedly plotting the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, accusing the former CIA captives of murder, conspiracy and terrorism, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
Relatives of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks were notified of the pending charges on Monday, Memorial Day, said Army Lt. Col. Tanya Bradsher, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
The new charge sheet reflected a political setback for the Obama administration, which not only came in to office pledging to close the prison camps in southeast Cuba that today hold 171 foreign men as war prisoners but also decided after study to have a civilian judge and jury hear the 9/11 trial in New York.
Politicians and some 9/11 families protested the scheme, fearing both that a trial would make Manhattan an even great al Qaeda target and that the accused may draw on greater due process in a federal court.
“The charges allege that the five accused were responsible for the planning and execution of the attacks on New York, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, PA that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001,’’ a Defense Department announcement said. “Those attacks resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people.”
The five men charged were the same as those charged at a military commission during the Bush administration, a trial the White House ordered frozen to give a Task Force time to study the case files of each Guantánamo captive.