Al Qaeda Leader Joins Democrats In Attack on Trump's CIA Nominee

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (Wikimedia)
May 8, 2018

The mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks asked permission this week from a military judge to share information about CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Al Qaeda leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was captured in 2003 and waterboarded more than 180 times by the CIA. Haspel ran a black site in Thailand where enhanced interrogation methods were employed, and opponents are seeking to torpedo her nomination due to her connections to the controversial Bush-era program.

The New York Times reports Mohammed asked a judge at Guantanamo Bay, where he is imprisoned, to share six paragraphs of testimony about Haspel with the Senate Intelligence Committee:

Ms. Haspel is scheduled to appear before the panel for a confirmation hearing on Wednesday, and several Democratic senators have called for the Trump administration to declassify more information about her involvement in the program to inform the debate about whether she is the right fit for the post.

Mr. Mohammed’s request to provide unspecified information to the panel adds a new twist to that debate. It was described by one of his lawyers, Marine Lt. Col. Derek A. Poteet, who is helping to defend him from death-penalty charges before the military commissions system at the Guantánamo Bay naval station.

On Monday, Mr. Mohammed submitted a request to the judge overseeing pretrial hearings in that case, Army Col. James Pohl, Colonel Poteet said. While the file is not public on the commissions docket, Colonel Poteet said it consisted of an expedited motion for permission to provide the information to the committee about Ms. Haspel.

The motion, Colonel Poteet said, included an attachment, titled "Additional Facts, Law and Argument in Support," containing "six specific paragraphs of information" from Mr. Mohammed that his client thinks the Intelligence Committee should know. After Mr. Mohammed raised the idea, his defense lawyers agreed that the information was important, Colonel Poteet said.

The Times reported it was not clear whether Pohl would report on the motion before Haspel's confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

President Donald Trump nominated Haspel to replace Mike Pompeo, who was recently sworn in as the nation's 70 secretary of state after a difficult confirmation fight.

Mohammed was the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.