Clayton Trivett

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Clayton Trivett
Occupation lawyer
Known for Guantanamo prosecutor

Clayton Trivett is a lawyer with the US military.[1][2] As of 2022 he is a Commander in the United States Navy Reserve.[3] He has served as a Guantanamo Military Commission prosecutor since at least 2008.[3]

In 2008 Trivett responded to an admission by Kieth Allred, the judge in the case of Salim Hamdan.[4] Allred voiced concern that he may have given Hamdan's jury incorrect instructions on how to interpret law of war issues. The issue was whether it was a war crime for an unlawful combatant - a fighter who did not qualify for the protections of POW status - to kill an enemy soldier in combat. Hamdan's defense lawyers had argued that this killing would merit a simple murder charge, and should be tried in an ordinary domestic court. Trivett said that the Judge's ruling might force prosecutors to scale back how many suspects they would file charges against. He said prosecutors were looking to charge up to 80 men.

On March 25, 2019, Trivett announced the prosecution had possession of audio recording they claimed contained discussion of the five principal suspects discussing the attacks on September 11, 2001.[5] He did not explain how the government acquired these recordings, but Carol Rosenberg reported observers believe the recordings were made when the suspects were in the Central Intelligence Agency's archipelago of clandestine black sites.

In the spring of 2019, the second judge for the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four other men, suddenly resigned.[6] Shane Cohen was nominated to replace him. Defense lawyers posed many questions as to whether Colonel Cohen had the objectivity to serve as Judge. Trivett also questioned Cohen, getting him to confirm he had not been offered a government position after the trial concludes.

In a 2015 hearing suspect Ramzi bin al-Shibh told the court that the translators assigned to sit beside him, to provide translation, in the war court had been a translator for the CIA, during his torture sessions.[7] This incident came up, again, on August 14, 2019. Defense lawyers wanted to call the interpreter as an eye witness, to fill in the gaps in the record left by the CIA's illegal destruction of evidence. Trivett warned the judge that, if he allowed the interpreter to testify they would claim national security issues required the trial to be shut down - even though he acknowledged the interpreter's identity had already been made public.

On November 19, 2021, Trivett acknowledged that, even though Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents had been considered to have been "clean" of playing a role in the torture of suspected terrorists who were in CIA custody, a team of nine FBI agents had been seconded to the CIA, had worked under CIA rules, and had played a role in their torture.[8]

In January 2021 Trivett was the prosecutor who announced the Guantanamo suspects would be offered Covid 19 vacciations.[2]

In September, 2021, after a very long delay in scheduling hearings, due to Covid 19, Trivett had to try to explain yet additional delays, following a ruling by the Court of Military Commission Review.[9] The review court had issued a 23 page ruling on challenges of the appointment of Military Commission judges.

On November 5, 2021, Trivett tried to explain to reporters the implications of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) changing its classification of some secret documents.[10] Redacted versions had already been made available to the Defense attorneys, and the CIA's change of classifications required a whole new set of documents to be made available. Trivett said a military team would have to first review the CIA's changes, before that new set could be made available.

Carol Rosenberg reports Trivett has served as a prosecutor, for the Guantanamo military commissions since 2008.[3] However, since 2022, he has been assigned greater responsibility. Rosenberg reports Trivett will be taking a new role in a new attempt to agree to plea bargains with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the four other men charged with him. In these negotiations prosecutors have been authorized to take the death penalty off the table.


  1. Carol Rosenberg. Prosecutors Struggle to Resume Guantánamo Trials, The New York Times, 2020-07-27, p. A13. Retrieved on 2022-03-21. “A prosecutor, Clayton G. Trivett, notified defense lawyers last week of the planning, which he said would consolidate court hearings and personnel to prevent “posing unnecessary risk to the resident base population of 6,000 people.””
  2. 2.0 2.1 Zack Budryk. Guantanamo Bay prisoners to be offered coronavirus vaccines, The Hill, 2021-01-28. Retrieved on 2022-03-21. “Trivett said the base could begin providing the shots to prisoners who consented as early as next Monday. The prison complex houses 40 detainees.”
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Carol Rosenberg. The 9/11 Trial: Why Are Plea Bargain Talks Underway?, The New York Times, 2022-03-20, p. A13. Retrieved on 2022-03-21. “Now a trial prosecutor who has been on the case since the George W. Bush administration, Clayton G. Trivett Jr., is in talks with defense lawyers about trading guilty pleas for at most life in prison without parole.”
  4. William Glaberson. Guantánamo judge admits possible error, The New York Times, 2008-08-06. Retrieved on 2022-03-21. “A prosecutor, Clayton Trivett, said the judge's interpretation could limit the prosecution's options in other cases here. He noted that prosecutors had said they might charge as many as 80 detainees with war crimes in the military commissions at Guantánamo.”
  5. Carol Rosenberg. U.S. Said to Have Tapes of Alleged 9/11 Mastermind Plotting With Co-Conspirators, The New York Times, 2019-03-25, p. A6. Retrieved on 2022-03-21. “Mr. Trivett did not disclose how or when the F.B.I. got voice samples of the accused plotters. Mr. Connell questioned in court whether they were recorded during the years that Mr. Mohammed and the other the defendants were held in the C.I.A.’s secret prison system.”
  6. Carol Rosenberg. New Judge in the 9/11 Trial at Guantánamo Inherits a Complex History, The New York Times, 2019-06-20, p. A18. Retrieved on 2022-03-21. “A trial prosecutor, Clayton Trivett, had only one question, to which Colonel Cohen replied that he has not applied for a civilian job at the Justice or Defense Departments.”
  7. Carol Rosenberg. The Strange Case of the C.I.A. Interpreter and the 9/11 Trial, The New York Times, 2019-08-14, p. A17. Retrieved on 2022-03-21. “In court several weeks ago, one of the prosecutors, Clayton Trivett, acknowledged that the interpreter’s identity had been made public. But he said the man and his family would be in danger even if he were to testify anonymously behind a blank screen through a voice scrambler in the courtroom, where no recording is allowed. The interpreter’s name has now been officially classified.”
  8. Carol Rosenberg. F.B.I. Agents Became C.I.A. Operatives in Secret Overseas Prisons, The New York Times, 2021-11-19, p. A11. Retrieved on 2022-03-21. “In open court on Thursday, another prosecutor, Clayton G. Trivett Jr., confirmed the unusual arrangement, in which nine F.B.I. agents were 'formally detailed' to the agency 'and thus became a member of the C.I.A. and worked within C.I.A. channels.'
  9. Carol Rosenberg. Proceedings in 9/11 Case Resume, and Then Are Delayed Again, The New York Times, 2021-09-07, p. A17. Retrieved on 2022-03-21. “A lawyer for Mr. Mohammed had just begun to question the new judge, Col. Matthew N. McCall, about the circumstances of his assignment to the case when a prosecutor, Clayton G. Trivett Jr., announced that the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review had issued a 23-page ruling on a challenge to the military commission judge selection process.”
  10. Carol Rosenberg. Some Sept. 11 Trial Secrets May Not Be Secrets Anymore, The New York Times, 2021-11-05, p. A15. Retrieved on 2022-03-21. “A lead prosecutor, Clayton G. Trivett Jr., agreed to the review, saying that 'there is some reconciliation that needs to be done' by his team. He said prosecutors would compare documents released by the C.I.A. under FOIA to those his team had prepared and given to defense lawyers.”