Leading legal defense groups Tuesday accused the Pentagon of foot-dragging on security clearances that would let civilian lawyers help their military counterparts defend the alleged plotters of the Sept. 11 attacks at Guantánamo.
Two experienced Boise, Idaho, attorneys with federal terrorism trial experience, David Nevin and Scott McKay, have yet to receive the necessary Pentagon clearances to work at Guantánamo, even though they agreed more than a month ago to help a Pentagon defense lawyer, Navy Reserves Capt. Prescott Prince, defend alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. A Pentagon official formally approved the charges against Mohammed on Friday.
In fact, not one of eight lawyers who had applied for clearances in recent months has been approved and briefed on the security program at Guantanamo, said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. ''We can both imagine that some critics would say that the backlog of pending paperwork at the Department of Defense was yet another way to ensure an unfair proceeding,'' Romero wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
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