Washington: It's the voice of a self-proclaimed mass murderer — calm, lucid and convincing. Everything is in English. After months of debate, the Pentagon has released a heavily censored audio tape featuring Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, the so-called mastermind of the September 11 attacks.
He was speaking at a military hearing to determine whether he could be called an enemy combatant — a label Mohamed doesn't dispute.
"I will not regret when I say I'm an enemy combatant," says he in the tape.
However, he also argues that other detainees shouldn't be at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay.
"You have to be fair with people. There are many, many people who have never been part of the Taliban," he goes on to say.
Through a representative, one can hear Mohamed's confession to some of the most horrific acts committed by the al-Qaeda — the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, the bombings in Bali and of course 9/11.
What you don't hear is Mohamed himself admitting what he did, or his justification for doing it. That is simply because the Pentagon cut those parts out, even though they appear in a previously released transcript.
The Pentagon says it censored the tape so it cannot be used to "recruit or encourage future terrorists".
But Mohamed also alleges he was mistreated in custody, details that have been cut out as well — both on the new audio tape as well as the transcript.
What people are afraid of is that in this case, the CIA and the military are hiding information that is simply embarrassing, that would simply reveal illegal conduct.
It's a long running complaint, that the administration is more concerned with protecting itself than national security, but it's not a debate that human rights groups are likely to win. In other words, what you hear, is all you're likely to get.