Mohammed Prosecution Faces Legal Issues

Along with security issues, the planned prosecution of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his co-defendants raises a host of legal issues, reports CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier from Washington.

The U.S. federal court system has tried terrorists before with more than a 90 percent conviction rate. But one former Guantanamo legal advisor says they've never tried someone like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

"All of the cases that I am aware of where terrorists have been successfully prosecuted in federal court have been people who have been captured in the United States," said retired Brig. Gen. Thomas Hemingway.

Lawyers can argue that Mohammed's six years in detention have already violated his right to a fair trial. They can also challenge whether it's possible to get an impartial jury in New York where nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on 9/11.

They'll also question the evidence. Mohammed confessed to planning the September 11th attacks to interrogators. He admitted it again in his Guantanamo hearing.

But the government admits it used so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" after his confession. These techniques included waterboarding him 183 times in a single month.

"I think if Khalid Mohammed's lawyers are good lawyers they are likely make this a hearing not about his guilt or innocence, but one about his detention and interrogation techniques," CBS News National Security Consultant Juan Zarate said on theEarly Show.

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Other experts believe the real risk is that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will use the courtroom to boast of his alleged crimes. They expect he'll try to represent himself like convicted 9/11 conspirator Zacharias Moussawi did.

"Of course that dragged on for three years because he was a very difficult individual for the judge to control," Thomas said.

But if Mohammed does that, he may also do the prosecution's work for them.

"All of this talk about waterboarding and interrogation and so forth, it's not going to mean any thing because Mohammed himself is going to incriminate himself," said CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen.