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U.S. recommends death penalty in USS Cole attack
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Thread: U.S. recommends death penalty in USS Cole attack

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    U.S. recommends death penalty in USS Cole attack

    The Pentagon on Wednesday said military prosecutors were seeking the death penalty for a Saudi man as they reaffirmed charges against the Guantanamo detainee accused in a deadly attack on a U.S. ship in Yemen.

    Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri, a Saudi Arabian national of Yemeni descent, is charged with planning and preparing the attack on the warship USS Cole that killed 17 sailors in 2000.

    While military prosecutors are recommending the death penalty, the Pentagon said that would have to be approved.

    Nashiri was also charged with planning a 2002 attack on a French oil tanker off Yemen that killed one crew member, the Pentagon said in a statement. (Additional reporting by Jane Sutton in Miami; Reporting by Missy Ryan)

    http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/u...ss-cole-attack

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    Pentagon seeks death penalty for Cole bombing mastermind

    Pentagon prosecutors Wednesday pressed the first Obama-era war crimes charges against a Guantnamo captive, seeking the death penalty in the case of a Saudi man accused of masterminding the 2000 suicide attack on an American Navy warship off Yemen that killed 17 American sailors.

    If a senior Defense Department official approves the charge sheet, Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, 46, would face the first-ever capitol prosecution at the war court called Camp Justice.

    Before his transfer to Guantnamo in 2006, the CIA held Nashiri at a secret site somewhere overseas and used a near-drowning technique called waterboarding on him to get him to cooperate during interrogation.

    The Pentagons 13-page charge sheet accused the self-described former millionaire from Mecca of 11 charges, including murder in violation of the law of war, treachery, terrorism and conspiring with Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al Zawahiri, among others. It also listed the names of each dead sailor.

    Nashiris Pentagon appointed defense lawyer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Reyes, decried the decision to try the Saudi at a tribunal rather than a civilian court.

    Nashiri is being tried at the Guantnamo military commissions because of the torture issue, Reyes said. Otherwise he would have been indicted in New York, where a grand jury in 2003 issued an indictment against two Yemenis whose extradition the U.S. has sought from that Arabian Peninsula nation.

    Word of the first full military commission case of the Obama administration came in a Pentagon news release revealing that the charges had been sworn by the office of the Chief war crimes prosecutor, Navy Capt. John Murphy.

    The Defense Department did not immediately release copies to the public despite a vow of greater transparency at the war court.

    The news release said the charges alleged Nashiri was in charge of the planning and preparation for the Oct. 12, 2000 attack on the USS Cole in the Port of Aden, Yemen. Suicide bombers drove an explosives laden boat into the $1billion destroyer, crippling it and wounding 40 sailors beyond the 17 who died in the blast.

    The Aegis class destroyer, which was commissioned at a ceremony in Port Everglades, nearly sunk. It was towed back to U.S. shores, restored and put back in business 18 months later and sails out of Norfolk Va.

    The charges also allege that Nashiri planned and prepared an averted al Qaeda attack on another warship USS The Sullivans as it refueled in the Port of Aden on Jan. 3, 2000.

    The Defense Department has gone forward with the case even as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has yet to decide what manner of execution would be used to carry out a death penalty on a war court convict.

    The Pentagon prosecutor has also not yet sworn charges against five men held at the Navy base in Cuba who allegedly conspired in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Attorney General Eric Holder recently approved the military trial for confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his four alleged other plotters after being rebuffed in efforts to have them face civilian trials.

    Nashiris Navy lawyer, Reyes, was not only critical of the forum for the proposed trial but of the timing of the charges.

    The military commissions do not have the procedural protections necessary for a capital case, he said. Because of the makeshift rules, my client could be convicted and put to death without ever having a chance to see his accusers take the stand.

    The Obama administration has said its reforms have made the military commissions fairer than those created by the Bush administration in the early years of Guantnamo, which Obama condemned as a presidential candidate and senator.

    The Coles captain, retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold, has been one of the most outspoken advocates of the Guantnamo war court in general and a war crimes trial for Nashiri in particular. After the bombing, he worked at the Pentagon as a planner in the office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with a hand in U.S. detention policy during the Bush administration.

    In civilian life, he testified at Guantnamo during the sentencing phase of a Bush-era military commission trial. A jury had convicted Osama bin Ladens media secretary, Ali Hamza al Bahlul of Yemen, of conspiring with al Qaeda by making a video that glorified the Cole bombing and Lippold described his disgust at discovering the propaganda film.

    He is currently running for a Nevada seat in the U.S. Congress, as a Republican, and recently described the attack as a life-changing experience in an interview from Carson City with The Huffington Post.

    My service to my Navy became more focused and even deeper, he said, which has caused me to want to enter government service again.

    At least two other current Guantnamo captives are among the uncharged co-conspirators in Nashiris alleged crimes: Walid bin Attash, designated for trial in the 9/11 attacks and Ahmed Darbi, who Holder had earlier approved for a war crimes trial but has yet to be charged.

    Read more: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/04/...#ixzz1KigbE39B

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    Death-penalty expert to join defense team at USS Cole trial

    The Pentagon has moved one step closer to putting the USS Cole bombing suspect before a capital war-crimes trial at Guantanamo, assigning an Indiana attorney with extensive death-penalty experience to help defend a Saudi-born Yemeni captive who was waterboarded by the CIA.

    The appointment of Indianapolis attorney Rick Kammen, who has handled more than a dozen federal and state death-penalty trials, was approved Wednesday by retired Navy Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald in a letter. Kammen is now authorized to travel to the remote base in southeast Cuba at Pentagon expense to help defend Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

    The first order of business for the defense team is to meet MacDonald's June 30 deadline to file notice on why the Pentagon shouldn't go forward with the prosecution as a death penalty case. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Reyes and New Mexico criminal defense attorney Nancy Hollander have already been on the case.

    Seventeen American sailors were killed when al-Qaida suicide bombers slammed a ship laden with explosives into the $1 billion American destroyer off Yemen on Oct. 12, 2000. A Pentagon charge sheet accused al-Nashiri, 46, of orchestrating the attack.

    Al-Nashiri is among three Guantanamo captives whom U.S. agents waterboarded during interrogations at secret CIA-run prisons overseas. He was captured two years after the Cole attack, disappeared into the CIA's "black sites," then was turned over to the military at Guantanamo in September 2006 for trial.

    Three months after his arrival, a U.S. military assessment signed by then-Army Brig. Gen. Edward Leacock described al-Nashiri as such a devoted warrior for radical Islam that he shunned sex.

    "Detainee is so dedicated to jihad that he reportedly received injections to promote impotence," Leacock wrote as deputy prison camps commander in a document stamped secret and recently released by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

    It is up to MacDonald, whose title is Convening Authority for Military Commissions, to decide which aspects of the Pentagon prosecution's proposed 13-page charge sheet will go forward as a death penalty case. These are the first charges sworn at the war court since President Barack Obama took office and worked with Congress to reform commissions.

    Under the new format, the Pentagon must pay for "learned counsel," or lawyers experienced in death-penalty trials, on capital cases. So MacDonald approved the services of Kammen, a 1971 graduate of the New York University School of Law, at the federally approved death-penalty defense rate of $178 an hour for up to 200 hours in this early phase.

    Once MacDonald approves a charge sheet, prosecutors have a month to take al-Nashiri before a military judge at Guantanamo's Camp Justice for a formal presentation of the charges.

    Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/04/2...#ixzz1L1CvQjSi

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    Lawyers for USS Cole bomb suspect file court case

    Lawyers for the suspected al-Qaida mastermind of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole said Tuesday they have filed a case against Poland at Europe's court of human rights over alleged abuse against him at a CIA-run site about eight years ago.

    The Open Society Justice Initiative, a New York-based human rights group, and lawyers for Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri are challenging Poland for "active complicity" in the extraordinary rendition program carried out under then-President George W. Bush.

    The case filed with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, seeks in part to press Poland to help block an "imminent risk" that al-Nashiri could face the death penalty.

    The 46-year-old Saudi national was held at a secret CIA site in Poland between December 2002 and June 2003, and is now being held at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    U.S. military prosecutors re-filed terrorism and murder charges last month and requested the death penalty against al-Nashiri over the alleged planning and preparation for the attack that killed 17 sailors and injured 41.

    The filing alleges that Poland's government violated the European Convention of Human Rights by enabling al-Nashiri's to face torture and helping his transfer, despite risks he faced in U.S. custody: further abuse, "a flagrantly unfair trial" and the death penalty, the group said.

    The human rights group said that since 2008 the Polish prosecutor has been investigating the CIA-run "black sites" like a military intelligence base in northeastern Stare Kiejkuty, where al-Nashiri was allegedly held, without any sign about when that investigation will end.

    The group says U.S. documents have shown that while in Poland U.S. interrogators subjected al-Nashiri to abuse, including mock executions with a power drill while he stood naked and hooded, and threats "to bring in his mother and sexually abuse her in front of him."

    Polish prosecutors investigating a secret CIA prison in Poland in March said they wanted the United States to question al-Nashiri and another prisoner at Guantanamo Bay alleged al-Qaida facilitator Abu Zubaydah in part to confirm whether they were actually held in Poland.

    In October, the U.S. Justice Department refused to assist Poland in its investigation, citing state interests.

    The rights group's lawyers say that Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald, who is responsible for convening the U.S. military commissions, has told al-Nashiri's military lawyers he has until June 30 to make written submissions against the death penalty.

    The filing comes in the wake of the highly publicized death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden during a U.S. military raid in Pakistan on May 1, and a subsequent debate about how much information gleaned from interrogation of al-Qaida suspects in custody may have helped U.S. officials to locate him.

    Al-Nashiri once bragged that he outranked suspected Sept. 11, 2001, mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the No. 3 man in al-Qaida. The U.S. case against him is the first to move forward since President Barack Obama ordered military trials to resume at Guantanamo Bay.

    The "extraordinary rendition" program involved the beyond-the-law transfer of U.S. terror suspects from country to country by the CIA a policy that human rights advocates say renditions were the agency's way to outsource torture of prisoners to countries where it is permitted practice.

    In a 2007 probe conducted on behalf of the Council of Europe, Swiss politician Dick Marty accused 14 European governments of permitting the CIA to run detention centers or carry out rendition flights between 2002 and 2005.

    The case would also be only the second pending over the policy of extraordinary rendition at the European court. Court officials say the only other case involves Khaled el-Masri, a German who was snatched by security forces off a bus in Macedonia in 2003, then carried to a secret prison in Afghanistan. The case against him later revealed he was the wrong person.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/...736817f4937f6d

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    Europeans ask US not to seek death penalty in USS Cole bombing

    LONDON -- The European Parliament, long a foe of the death penalty, urged the U.S. Thursday to abandon plans to seek the death penalty for a Saudi-born captive accused of orchestrating the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.

    In a resolution, the parliament noted that the accused, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, 46, was held and interrogated at a secret CIA prison in Europe out of reach of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

    "Mr. al-Nashiri's case is especially sensitive in Europe, since he alleges that for several months in 2002 and 2003 he was tortured and held in secret CIA detention in Poland, and that during his four years in CIA custody before being transferred to Guantanamo, he was tortured by various means including waterboarding," the parliament said in a statement announcing its approval of the resolution.

    President George W. Bush ordered in September 2006 the transfer of al-Nashiri and more than a dozen other secretly held CIA prisoners to Guantanamo, where they were to be tried before military commissions. President Barack Obama froze the military trials to study the cases and reform the process, which resulted in Attorney General Eric Holder's decision in 2009 that al-Nashiri should face military trial there.

    Al-Nashiri, who was captured in the United Arab Emirates in 2002, is accused of leading the al-Qaida operation that sent two suicide bombers into the side of the Cole on Oct. 12, 2000, killing 17 American sailors.

    The Pentagon's war crimes prosecutor has proposed a death penalty trial. Al-Nashiri's American lawyers are now preparing plea to a retired vice admiral who oversees the court to reduce the maximum penalty in the case to life in prison.

    No date has been set for al-Nashiri's initial appearance; he has never been seen at the war court in Guantanamo.

    The European Parliament legislates laws common to the 27 European Union countries. Previous parliament sessions have urged member nations to help resettle Guantanamo captives as part of Obama's so-far failed ambition to close the detention center in Cuba.

    Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/06/0...#ixzz1OpMTCFxp

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    Defenders: USS Cole bombing case too tainted for death penalty trial

    Military and civilian defenders appealed to a senior Pentagon official to take the death penalty off the table at trial of a Saudi man accused in al Qaidas 2000 suicide bombing that killed 17 US sailors

    6 Guantnamo captives have been tried by military commission since the Pentagon began moving men and boys there in January 2002. None faced death penalty charges.

    4 pleaded guilty in exchange for short sentences:

    So-called Australian Taliban David Hicks pleaded guilty in 2007 to providing material support for terror as a Taliban foot soldier. He was repatriated that same year.

    Sudanese-born al Qaeda cook Ibrahim al Qosi pleaded guilty in July 2010 to providing material support terror and conspiracy. He is slated for release in 2012.

    Canadian Omar Khadr pleaded guilty in October to conspiring with al Qaeda, murdering a U.S. soldier at age 15 by throwing a grenade in a firefight, spying and providing material support for terror. He is slated for return to Canada by November to serve out at most 6 more years in jail.

    Sudanese-born paramilitary camp trainer Noor Mohammed pleaded guilty in February to conspiring with al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 90s. Under the plea bargain, he could be released in 2014 in exchange for testimony at future trials.

    2 were convicted at trials:

    Yemeni Salim Hamdan of Yemen was convicted in August 2008 of providing material support for terror for working as Osama bin Ladens driver in Afghanistan, but cleared of a conspiracy charge. He was sent home the same year.

    Bin Ladens media secretary, Ali Hamza al Bahlul of Yemen, was found guilty in November 2008 of providing material support for terror and conspiracy after offering no defense. He is serving life at Guantnamo.

    **

    The militarys case against a former Saudi millionaire accused of masterminding the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole is tainted by delay, torture and destruction of evidence, lawyers argued Friday in a bid to spare the Guantnamo captive a death penalty trial.

    While he was held in a secret CIA prison, an agent revved a power drill near the head of a naked, hooded Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, who was also subjected to water boarding, a technique that Attorney General Eric Holder has called torture.

    Now it will be up to retired Navy Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald to decide whether Nashiri, 46, could be subjected to military execution if a Guantnamo jury convicts him for the al Qaida suicide bombing off Yemen. Seventeen American sailors were killed, dozens more wounded and the $1.1 billion warship was crippled in the October 2000 explosion.

    The United States should not be permitted to kill a man it has brutally tortured and subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, his American defenders wrote in a 21-page brief.

    Pentagon lawyers filed capital murder, terror and treachery charges against Nashiri in April.

    Nashiri lawyer Rick Kammen said Friday that, unlike in the civilian system, the government provided no case evidence for defense lawyers preparing their argument on why MacDonald should not accept a Pentagon prosecutors recommendation of a death penalty trial.

    Under Obama era reforms for military commissions, Nashiris Navy defender, Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Reyes, sought and got Pentagon funding to hire Kammen, an Indianapolis attorney who has worked as a defender on some 30 federal death penalty cases. The brief was signed by Kammen, Reyes and an Air Force Maj. Allison Danels, like Reyes a judge advocate general.

    Nashiri was captured in the United Arab Emirates in November 2002 and held in secret CIA custody overseas for nearly four years. CIA internal investigations made public in Congress and through the Freedom of Information Act revealed the power-drill episode, threats to harm his family, and use of the near-drowning technique called waterboarding all intended to get him to cooperate during interrogation.

    Poland has sought to question him about his CIA treatment in that country.

    Nashiri got to Guantnamo in September 2006, by order of President George W. Bush. Once there, he described himself as a former millionaire merchant from Mecca, the Saudi holy city.

    Fridays filing took issue not only with Nashiris treatment in U.S. custody but also assailed the military commissions system first set up by Bush but reformed twice since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled his 1st tribunal unconstitutional.

    The world wonders whether the United States will continue to be an example of how fair trials are conducted or whether it will descend further down the path of expedient and secret justice that Military Commissions have come to represent.

    White House officials say that Obama era reforms in tandem with Congress have given Guantnamo detainees greater protections along the lines of the military court martial or civilian justice systems.

    But the defenders write in their brief that they had just 3 months to prepare Fridays argument. In contrast, they said, Nidal Hassans lawyers got 18 months in what ultimately became a death penalty case against the Army psychiatrist accused in the 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood that killed 13 people.

    It will be up to the new Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, to decide what method of execution to use in military commission cases.

    As of Friday, Pentagon lawyers were unwilling to say whether or not the legal team studying the issue had prepared recommendations for either Panetta or his predecessor Robert Gates, said Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale.

    Breasseale noted that MacDonald had yet to approve death penalty charges in any Guantnamo prosecution.

    6 cases are in the pipeline. In addition to Nashiri, military prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in their case against the 5 alleged 9/11 conspirators, notably confessed mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed who has said he would welcome martyrdom.

    Nashiris attorney also argued that the United States had taken too long in bringing Nashiri to trial. At the time of his capture and interrogation, they wrote, Nashiri was an unindicted co-conspirator in a New York City case against other Cole bomb conspirators since tried and convicted.

    They also argue that the proposed death penalty case is tainted by a CIA operations chiefs decision in 2005 to destroy videotapes of black site interrogations.

    (source: Miami Herald)

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    The militarys case against a former Saudi millionaire accused of masterminding the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole is tainted by delay, torture and destruction of evidence, lawyers argued Friday in a bid to spare the Guantnamo captive a death penalty trial.

    While he was held in a secret CIA prison, an agent revved a power drill near the head of a naked, hooded Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, who was also subjected to water boarding, a technique that Attorney General Eric Holder has called torture.

    Now it will be up to retired Navy Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald to decide whether Nashiri, 46, could be subjected to military execution if a Guantnamo jury convicts him for the al Qaida suicide bombing off Yemen. Seventeen American sailors were killed, dozens more wounded and the $1.1 billion warship was crippled in the October 2000 explosion.

    The United States should not be permitted to kill a man it has brutally tortured and subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, his American defenders wrote in a 21-page brief.

    Pentagon prosecutors filed capital murder, terror and treachery charges against Nashiri in April.

    Nashiri lawyer Rick Kammen said Friday that, unlike in the civilian system, the government provided no case evidence for defense lawyers preparing their argument on why MacDonald should not approve a death penalty trial.

    Under Obama era reforms for military commissions, Nashiris Navy defender, Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Reyes, sought and got Pentagon funding to hire Kammen, an Indianapolis attorney who has worked as a defender on some 30 federal death penalty cases. The brief was signed by Kammen, Reyes and an Air Force Maj. Allison Danels, like Reyes a judge advocate general.

    Nashiri was captured in the United Arab Emirates in November 2002 and held in secret CIA custody overseas for nearly four years. CIA internal investigations made public in Congress and through the Freedom of Information Act revealed the power-drill episode, threats to harm his family, and use of the near-drowning technique called waterboarding all intended to get him to cooperate during interrogation.

    Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/1...#ixzz1Y82VlHKE
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    Death penalty case set for USS Cole defendant

    A senior Pentagon official Wednesday referred the first death penalty case under President Obama for trial by military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was charged in April by military prosecutors with murder, terrorism and other violations of the laws of war for his role in the October 2000 al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.

    Under military rules, the Pentagon official, known as the Convening Authority, independently examines the charges filed by military prosecutors and decides whether the defendant will be tried on all, some of none of the charges. In Nashiris case, the Convening Authority, Ret. Admiral Bruce MacDonald, forwarded the capital charges sworn by prosecutors.

    Nashiri, a Saudi citizen of Yemeni descent, is one of 15 high-value detainees held at Guantanamo, and prosecutors allege that he was in charge of the planning and preparation of the Cole attack. Two suicide bombers in a small boat pulled alongside the Navy destroyer in the port of Aden and the ensuing blast, which ripped a 30-by-30-foot hole in the ship, killed 17 American sailors.

    In submissions to the Convening Authority, attorneys for Nashiri argued that no case should be brought against their client because he was tortured while in CIA custody. Nashiri was captured in the United Arab Emirates in 2002 and held in secret CIA prisons overseas before he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in September 2006.

    Military prosecutors also swore capital charges in June against Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind, and four co-defendants but the Convening Authority has not yet acted on those charges. The Obama administration had hoped to charge Mohammed in federal court in New York but abandoned that plan after fierce congressional and local opposition. Nashiri, on the other hand, was always designated for trial by a military tribunal.

    Nashiri was one of three detainees who was waterboarded by the CIA, and he was also subject to mock executions when CIA operatives separately held a power drill and a gun to his head, according to a report by the CIA inspector general. The waterboarding was sanctioned by Justice Department lawyers, but the use of the drill and the gun fell outside interrogation techniques approved during the Bush administration and since abandoned by Obama.

    The European Parliament, in a resolution, as well as human rights groups, have said that Nashiri should not be subject to the death penalty because of the legacy of his treatment by the CIA. His lawyers also argue that the agencys destruction of videotapes of Nashiris waterboarding deprives the defense of potentially exculpatory evidence.

    Nashiri, who has never been seen publicly since his capture, said at a closed 2007 military hearing that he confessed to involvement in the Cole bombing only because he was tortured.

    Under the reformed system of military commission, the government cannot use any statements obtained under torture. And prosecutors are unlikely to rely on any statements Nashiri made while in CIA custody.

    But one of Nashiris attorneys, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Reyes, has warned that he intends to call CIA officials involved in his clients interrogation to the stand.

    Since the military detention center opened in 2002, six cases have been completed, resulting in four plea bargains, a short sentence and a guilty verdict that led to a life sentence. Two of those six detainees have been released, and three more are scheduled to be sent home over the next few years as a result of the pleas.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/...z4K_story.html

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    Pentagon: Arraignment date set for accused bomber

    The Pentagon says a Guantanamo Bay prisoner accused of planning the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole will be arraigned Oct. 26 before a military judge at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba.

    The prisoner, Abd al-Nashiri, would face charges that include murder in violation of the law of war for allegedly planning the attack that killed 17 sailors and wounded 40 while the Navy destroyer was on a refueling stop in the Yemeni port of Aden.

    This would be the first death-penalty war crimes trial for a prisoner at Guantanamo under President Barack Obama.

    Obama had pledged to close the detention center but ran into congressional opposition to moving detainees to the U.S.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...#ixzz1ZqmigXKT

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    Ship bombing suspect in a Guantanamo Bay military courtroom Wednesday

    A terror suspect will emerge from the shadows after nine years of detention this week when hes led into a military courtroom at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiris was captured in 2002 and has remained virtually invisible since then, detained first overseas in secret facilities and then at Guantanamo.

    The United States claims he is the brains behind the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, which killed 17 U.S. Navy sailors, wounded dozens more and left the warship crippled in the harbor of Aden, Yemen.

    The officer in charge of the ship at the time, Commander Kirk Lippold, U.S. Navy (Ret.), says this court appearance is long overdue. The crew and families have been patient for 11 years, Lippold told CNN Monday. It is time for justice to be served.

    The arraignment Wednesday morning is expected to last only an hour or so, with al-Nashiris formal military trial still months away. But this potentially could be the first death penalty case in the military commission system if he is found guilty.

    And the allegations of water boarding and other torture will turn the international spotlight back to Guantanamo and to how the U.S. deals with its most notorious suspects.

    The case is seen as a test run for the future trials of Guantanamos most notorious detainees, those accused of planning the 9/11 terror attacks.

    Al Nashiris military and civilian defense lawyers have said the torture including repeated water boarding, intimidations by power drills and threats to his family - make a fair trial impossible.

    "By torturing Mr. al-Nashiri and subjecting him to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, the United States has forfeited its right to try him and certainly to kill him," a defense brief said. "Through the infliction of physical and psychological abuse, the government has essentially already killed the man it seized almost 10 years ago."

    And just in recent weeks defense and prosecution lawyers have been sparring, with motions and counter motions, over whether al-Nashiri would be released even if he is acquitted - and whether that should be disclosed to the military officers who will service as jurors in his trial.

    Under the circumstances of this case, where it has been publically acknowledged that Mr. al Nashiri was tortured by the U.S. government, a trial without any real possibility of reprieve is yet another form of torture, his lawyers said in a motion last month.

    The colonel acting as judge in the case has not ruled on that, but the prosecution has argued that release of al-Nashiri goes beyond the authority of the Military Commission.

    The suspect faces additional charges related to an attempted attack on the USS The Sullivans in Yemen in January 2000 and an attack on a French tanker in 2002 that resulted in the death of one crew member. The two attacks on U.S. Navy vessels predate the federal Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against terrorists passed by Congress in the days after the 9/11 attacks.

    Some 30 journalists have already been flown to Guantanamo by the military to observe the trial, either in the courtroom or via a television feed to a offices set up for reporters in a nearby abandoned hanger. And for the first time journalists another 20 or so will be able to watch the proceedings from the United States, from an auditorium at Fort Meade between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Fort Meade is headquarters to the super-secret intelligence organization, the National Security Agency.

    And survivors of the USS Cole attack and families of the victims will be provided a closed circuit feed in Norfolk, Virginia. No photographs or recordings are allowed either in Guantanamo or in the remote locations in the United States. All the transmissions are controlled by the military and will have a 40-second delay and kill switch should military censors decide that classified information has been divulged and should be protected.

    The al-Nashiri defense team has asked the Military Commission to pay four outside experts, to rule on the acquital and release questioin and to give their client privacy in correspondence with his lawyers. We are hopeful on Wendesay the court will hear and decide various outstanding issues, Indianapolis lawyer Richard Kammen told CNN. He is a nationally recognized expert on death penalty cases. He admits that it hard to predict outcomes in the military commissions. This is a the fuirst hearing in essentially what is a made up system, Kammen said They are making this up as they go along.

    Also travelling to Guantanamo, in addition to journalists, lawyers, legal support staff, and representaties of the USS Cole families are representatives of public action groups. Among the observers will be Human Rights Firsts Melina Milazzo. She like other critics of the military commissions says terrorists like al Nashiri should be tried in federael courts. This is a risky case. Whativer happens it will be attacked and challenged on a variety of grounds, Milazzo told CNN. The al-Nashiri case will highlight a lot of what is wrong with the military commission system.

    http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2011/1...oom-wednesday/

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