Few Signs of Terrorism Trial Disturb Guantanamo Beachgoers

Photograph by David Lerman/Bloomberg

Girl Scout Beach

Girl Scout Beach seems an unlikely place to find terrorists.

Yet just up the road from this secluded strip of shoreline, which offers stunning views of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, lies the military courthouse that is hearing the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

If there is any special pride or excitement at this U.S. naval station in hosting the biggest terrorism trial in U.S. history, it was hard to find yesterday at Girl Scout Beach. The beach, which can be used by anyone on the base, hosted a few swimmers and surfers and a pair of girls who sunbathed on a small strip of sand.

A large Cuban iguana stood watch on a rock, unintimidated by a Romanian TV crew that had come to cover the court hearings and took time to film the creature.

While the lizard appeared in fine form, the court hearings did not. After little more than an hour of proceedings today, the judge postponed a new round of preliminary hearings until tomorrow amid allegations that the government is eavesdropping on private conversations between defense attorneys and the accused.

Proceedings have been stymied since the disclosure two weeks ago that an unnamed government official had interrupted the audio and video feeds transmitted to public viewing sites. The incident led to concerns by defense lawyers that their private conversations with their clients may be monitored by the unnamed authority because of the courtroom’s sensitive microphones.

The chief prosecutor in the case, Army Brigadier General Mark Martins, declined to say who the unnamed authority is, which government agency he or she represents, or even where the mysterious official is located. For now, at least, the mystery continues.

If the iguana knows the answer, it isn’t talking.

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