Guantanamo defendant says he may want to be his own lawyer

A Guantanamo Bay prisoner charged in the Sept. 11 attack told a judge Monday he may want to represent himself when the stalled military proceedings against him resume, a statement that prompted the judge to recess a hearing just as it was getting started.

Yemeni prisoner Walid Bin Attash began to explain his reasoning to the judge at the start of the hearing that has been scheduled to last up to two weeks at the U.S. base in Cuba, saying he had no faith in his court-appointed defense team because they have failed to resolve his complaints about the conditions of his confinement. The judge cut him off before he could go into detail.

The judge, Army Col. James Pohl, recessed the hearing for the day so his lawyers could discuss his legal options. Defendants are permitted to represent themselves in military commissions and they would still be entitled to have lawyers standing by to assist them.

Five Guantanamo prisoners have been charged for their alleged roles planning and aiding the Sept. 11 attack but the proceedings were put on hold in April 2014 when a lawyer for defendant Ramzi Binalshibh revealed that members of his defense team were being investigated by the FBI for a possible security breach.

Pohl had been expected to decide as early as Monday whether the case would be able to proceed now that the Justice Department has concluded that no one will be charged for the alleged breach.

That decision has now been delayed until Tuesday at the earliest.

The five prisoners, including the self-proclaimed architect of the Sept. 11 attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, were arraigned in May 2012 before the military commission on charges that include terrorism and nearly 3,000 counts of murder in violation of the laws of war. They could get the death penalty if convicted.

A trial date has not been scheduled.

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