Thursday, April 19, 2012

No real justice in Guantanamo

by Reed Brody

Los Angeles Times

April 19, 2012

Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, wearing white prison clothes, seemed by turns amused and bewildered as he sat in a bright room last week during a pretrial hearing at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Nashiri is charged with being a key organizer of Al Qaeda's attack on the U.S. destroyer Cole on Oct. 12, 2000, off the coast of Yemen, which killed 17 U.S. servicemen, as well as of two other attacks. He faces the death penalty if convicted in a trial before a military commission that is scheduled to begin in November.

The Nashiri case is seen as a dry run for the trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other alleged planners of the Sept. 11 attacks, who will be arraigned in Guantanamo on May 5. But it is also important in its own right. He is accused of dreadful crimes, but even if he is found guilty, his execution would be a deeply disturbing end to a long ordeal of abuse in an archipelago of secret U.S. prisons around the world.

Nashiri was captured in Dubai in October 2002 and secretly transferred to CIA custody. He was reportedly first taken to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan known as the "Salt Pit," then to another secret jail in Bangkok, Thailand.

A report by the CIA's inspector general details a range of abuses to which Nashiri was subjected, including waterboarding. He was sent on to Poland, where he was, according to the report, threatened with a power drill revved near his head while he was hooded but otherwise naked. His captors also cocked a semiautomatic handgun close to his head as he sat shackled, held him in "standing stress positions" and threatened to sexually abuse his mother in front of him.