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Accused USS Cole plotter complains of mistreatment

By Carol Rosenberg, The Miami Herald –

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — The alleged architect of the USS Cole bombing was brought before the war court Wednesday and said he had chosen to skip this week’s legal arguments because of mistreatment at his prison camp for ex-CIA captives.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, 47, complained to his judge, Army Col. James Pohl, that his U.S. military guards gratuitously chain him up and transport him to court in a car that’s so uncomfortable he throws up during transport.

Al-Nashiri, who was water-boarded by the CIA before he got to Guantanamo in 2006, also said he has a back problem and belly chains exacerbate it.

He addressed the judge courteously, unchained and on his feet in a traditional gown topped by a sports jacket in what was meant to follow a scripted questioning of his understanding of his right to voluntarily skip pre-trial hearings.

Al-Nashiri said he understood, and that he wanted to come to every session. Then he advised his judge that, if he doesn’t come to court, “Let the world know that the judge sentenced me to death because I didn’t show up to court due to chains. Thank you.”

The Pentagon alleges the Saudi-born al-Nashiri, a self-described former millionaire from Mecca, organized al-Qaida’s October 2000 attack on the Cole off Aden, Yemen. Two suicide bombers exploded a bomb-laden skiff alongside the $1 billion warship, killing 17 U.S. sailors. He faces an eventual death-penalty trial before a military jury here at Guantánamo.

There was no immediate response from the detention center spokesman about conditions at Camp 7, the prison building where former CIA captives are kept that’s so secretive only select members of Congress get to see it. The Pentagon won’t say where on Guantanamo it’s located, how much it cost to build or how its special Task Force Platinum guard force is selected.


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