U.S. security officials have expressed concern over reports that five al Qaeda members detained at Guantanamo Bay were allowed to use laptops and may have been able to pass sensitive information to other alleged terrorists, reports the Washington Times Friday.
Senior Pentagon officials approved the use of the laptops in September 2008, which did not have Internet access, to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, seen at left, and four other men alleged to be 9/11 conspirators, the Washington Times reports.
The practice allowing the detainees use of the laptops lasted until this January, when Attorney General Eric Holder decided to try the men in civilian court.
According to the Washington Times:
The computer access was granted by Guantanamo authorities before an Oct. 6, 2008, ruling by Marine Corps Col. Ralph H. Kohlmann, a military judge, that formally granted the five terrorism suspect the right to use computers, said Col. Les Melnyk, a Pentagon spokesman.
Col. Melnyk said that prior to the ruling "the government's prosecution team agreed to provide a number of the materials requested by the defense - including computers - in advance of the ruling, having already determined that this was the fairest, safest and most secure way for 'pro se accused' to mount an appropriate defense." The term "pro se" describes defendants who represent themselves in legal proceedings without lawyers.
"It is a slippery slope," Tom Joscelyn, of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told the Washington Times. "It is basically moving the ball inch by inch. This is one more thing that we are giving to them, and there is really no good reason that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed deserves a laptop."