Complications had already cast doubt on whether the Sept. 11 trial, predicted to last more than a year, would begin by the 20th anniversary of the attacks, in 2021. Most classified defense work has been on hold since virus-related restrictions paralyzed travel for many of the lawyers, who are spread across the country.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 27, 2020
Should I refinance my mortgage?
- It could be a good idea, because mortgage rates have never been lower. Refinancing requests have pushed mortgage applications to some of the highest levels since 2008, so be prepared to get in line. But defaults are also up, so if you’re thinking about buying a home, be aware that some lenders have tightened their standards.
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- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
Is the coronavirus airborne?
- The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
- So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
The lawyer, David I. Bruck, 70, one of the nation’s leading capital defense lawyers, joined the case in April to replace a 75-year-old defense lawyer who left the team representing one of the defendants, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, for health reasons. But Mr. Bruck, who is based in Virginia, has not yet received a security clearance and has not been able to travel to Guantánamo to meet Mr. bin al-Shibh, who is accused of being a deputy to Mr. Mohammed in the Sept. 11 hijacking plot.
None of the defense lawyers have met personally with any of the 40 wartime detainees at Guantánamo since the start of the outbreak because they are considered particularly vulnerable if they are infected. All the detainees are in their second decade of custody and many have conditions that put them at high risk, including obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
A New York City criminal defense lawyer who this year shared a six-man tent at Camp Justice to observe a session of the case for the American Bar Association likened the prosecution plan to a modification of the way professional sports leagues are resuming games — but on a naval base in Cuba without the testing and medical care, and with greater risk and lawyers in their 60s and 70s.
“In basketball, a guy gets sick they take him out and test everybody twice in 48 hours,” said Joshua L. Dratel, who defended a case at the Guantánamo war court in 2006 and 2007, when lawyers were put up in officers’ quarters. “What if 20 people got sick at Camp Justice? Could the hospital even handle it?”
The proposal for a quarantine starting in September is part of a flurry of efforts by the prosecutors to resume hearings in all four active war crimes cases after a series of setbacks and obstacles — including an adverse court ruling against the prosecution in a rare case of a prisoner who has cooperated with the prosecution.
The last hearing at the court compound was held in late February in the case of Majid Khan, a confessed Qaeda courier who turned government witness in 2012 but who has yet to testify in a single case. The judge in that case, Col. Douglas K. Watkins, recently rebuked prosecutors for withholding evidence and awarded Mr. Khan a year off his ultimate sentence.