Chicago lawyer wears Muslim garb while defending Gitmo 5 client

Bormann is defending Walid bin Attash, one of five top al-Qaidaoperatives on trial in Guantanamo Bay for allegedly conspiring in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The five men, who have come to be known collectively as the Gitmo 5, were arraigned there Saturday.

It was then that Bormann gained national notice, and a measure of criticism, for appearing in court in traditional Muslim clothing that left only her face showing and for asking one woman on the government team to consider dressing more modestly so her client could focus on the proceedings.

Bormann would not discuss reports of threats against her.

For her, the issue is a simple one of respecting the religious and cultural beliefs of a client. She said that since she was appointed to bin Attash’s case last year, she has always dressed conservatively out of deference to a client who believes he will violate a religious tenet if he looks at a woman who is immodestly dressed.

“My client has never seen my hair, has never seen my arms, has never seen my legs,” Bormann said in an interview Monday. “All of the defense counsel, all of the guards and everybody who works in Guantanamo Bay camp has seen me dressed like this. … I never thought in my wildest dreams that this would become an issue.”

“There is nothing provocative about what I did. This is a religious issue and a cultural issue for [some of these defendants],” Bormann said in the interview. “I want him to be able to fully concentrate on the proceedings at hand without any kind of interference or loss of focus.”