Guantanamo trials not a sham, says prosecutor

Chief Guantanamo prosecutor defends the upcoming terror tribunal from 9/11 defendants' lawyers who call it a sham

Preview: Guantanamo 01:30

The chief prosecutor charged with trying the accused 9/11 terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, defends the upcoming war crimes tribunal from defense lawyers' claims that it's a sham. Brig. Gen. Mark Martins speaks to Lesley Stahl at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, where 60 Minutes cameras were the first allowed to tape inside both the courtroom where the defendants will be tried, and inside the defendants' holding cells. Stahl's report on what's being called al Qaeda's Nuremberg will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT.

It's a sham, say the lawyers, because many of their clients were subjected to controversial interrogation techniques overseas like waterboarding and extreme sleep deprivation. The lawyers claim this taints any subsequent information obtained from these individuals, who they say are now "broken" men. Defense lawyers also complain that they and their clients have been spied on with listening devices at Guantanamo Bay. Martins responds, "I don't think the test of any system is what the defense counsel say about it." But he acknowledges he will have a difficult job ahead of him. "We've got to insure that what we do in these cases is justice and can't be accused of being vengeance. And that's a great challenge."

Part of the challenge for the general is the controversy surrounding the notorious detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. There, 164 detainees suspected of terrorism remain imprisoned, most for nearly 12 years. There have been hunger strikes, force-feedings and battles stemming from prisoners' deeply held religious beliefs. Besides the five 9/11 defendants, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, most have not even been charged.

One of the detainees cried out when he saw 60 Minutes cameras. "Please, we are tired. Either you leave us to die in peace or either tell the world the truth. Let the world hear what's happening."

Says the general, "That's one of the reasons I have a sense of urgency to try everybody that we can try. "But does the situation at the Guantanamo Bay prison taint the upcoming trials?" asks Stahl. "I wouldn't characterize it as taint. I believe that it influences people's perceptions," says Martins.