The man accused of being the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks said in a courtroom here on Wednesday that the United States government had killed many more people in the name of national security than he was accused of killing.
The defendant, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, was allowed to address the court at a pretrial hearing focused on security classification rules for evidence that will be used in his trial on charges of orchestrating the attacks by hijacked planes.
“When the government feels sad for the death or the killing of 3,000 people who were killed on Sept. 11,” he said, there should also be sorrow that the government has killed “thousands of people, millions.”
Mr. Mohammed, who wore a military-style camouflage vest to the courtroom, accused the United States of using an elastic definition of national security, comparable to the way dictators bend the law to justify their acts.
“Many can kill people under the name of national security, and to torture people under the name of national security, and to detain children under the name of national security, underage children,” he said in Arabic through an English interpreter.
The judge, Col. James L. Pohl of the Army, gave Mr. Mohammed permission to speak and did not interrupt him, but said he would not hear any further personal comments from the five defendants who are accused of recruiting, financing and training the hijackers.
Mr. Mohammed did not indicate why he wore a camouflage vest, but his wardrobe choice suggested that he might try to invoke protections reserved for soldiers. His lawyers had argued earlier that he should be allowed to wear a woodland-patterned camouflage vest to court because he wore one as part of a mujahedeen force armed by the United States that fought against Soviet troops occupying Afghanistan in the 1980s.
The United States is trying the five defendants as unlawful belligerents who are not entitled to the combat immunity granted to soldiers who kill in battle. Colonel Pohl ruled on Tuesday that the defendants could wear what they wanted to court, as long as it did not pose a security risk or include any part of a United States military uniform like those worn by their guards.