Tami Michaels came face-to-face with accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed inside a military commission court at Guantanamo Bay in May during yet another round of seemingly endless pretrial hearings.

Inside the room, Ms. Michaels — an interior designer and radio host from Seattle who could be called as a witness in the case — said she watched as the defense team for the al Qaeda militant stalled for time and looked for any reason to further drag out an already painfully long process.

Although defense attorneys vehemently denied that was their strategy, Ms. Michaels came away from the hearing frustrated and fearing that the trial of Mohammed, charged with a host of crimes including murder, conspiracy and terrorism in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, is doomed to exist in a permanent legal limbo.