Terror suspect censors his courtroom sketch

 

crosenberg@MiamiHerald.com

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed was granted -- and wielded -- the right to censor his own courtroom sketch Thursday.

Pool sketch artist Janet Hamlin said that a court security officer brought her drawing to Mohammed inside the courtroom for approval during a lunchtime recess at the arraignment.

From a window in the spectators gallery, Hamlin could see the Pakistani-born, U.S.-educated captive lean back in hiscourt chair, hold up the image -- and point disapprovingly at a portion.

"He said, `Look at my FBI photo. Fix the nose. Then bring it back to me,' '' she said, quoting the instructions to her -- as related through the U.S. officer.

The image was released after lunch, with the new nose job.

A Pentagon spokesman said the court artist whittled down the width of his nose-- and the security officer authorized its release.

''He wanted his nose to look like the FBI photo. We honored his wishes,'' said Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, accompanying media at this remote base.

"I think it shows the remarkable lengths we go tothat we take their desires into consideration.''

Gordon said the court security officer handed the sketch to Mohammed's attorneys, who in turn handed it to the defendant.

The drawing is the only current image of the 43-year-old captive who disappeared into CIA custody in 2003.

Pentagon rules prohibit photographs of detainees, both through an interpretation of the Geneva Conventions and an order by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England forbidding U.S. troops to release captives' photos.

Hamlin, a veteran court sketch artist, has been drawing detainees at the Guantánamo war court for years. Thursday was the first known instance of a detainee getting to review an image.

It came after the military judge presiding at the arraignment of the five alleged co-conspirators in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks ruled that Mohammed was competent enough to serve as his own defense attorney.

''I did give him quite the beak,'' Hamlin conceded, as she headed back to the top security courtroom to fix the nose.

In her hand was a copy of the widely circulated photo of his capture in Pakistan -- showing the captive known as KSM in a rumpled T-shirt, in need of a shave and with tussled hair.

Read more In the Courts stories from the Miami Herald

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