He's asked the federal courts to intervene, setting up yet another Guantánamo conflict that could reach the U.S. Supreme Court. The prison camps commander, he said, is "chilling the attorney-client relationship and the accused's ability to have access to the courts."
Woods, a one-star admiral, became the 11th commander of the detention center in August, two months before the Pentagon formally charged Nashiri with killing 17 American sailors as a behind-the-scenes planner of al Qaida's October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole off Yemen.
Woods, not a lawyer, has made his career in information jamming. He ran a sea based air wing that flew missions to jam enemy air defenses in Afghanistan. Then he worked on a program that tried to interfere with the signals of remote-control detonators in Iraq, and thwart deadly roadside bombs. His most recent post was at Navy headquarters where he was director of the strategy and policy division.
Nashiri's case is already complicated by the way interrogators treated him when he was held in a clandestine CIA prison. A congressional inquiry found that Nashiri, a former millionaire from Mecca in Saudi Arabia, was waterboarded and interrogated as a loaded gun and a revving drill were held near his head.
Nashiri, who has been imprisoned at Guantánamo for five years, is being held in a secret part of the camp where, according to war court testimony, Woods had his staff do a surprise search of the captives' legal materials in October to see what earlier prison staff had allowed in.
In a hearing in November, Nashiri's attorneys objected to the search, and Pohl sided with them. But the policy that the prison camps drafted in response to Pohl's ruling is too broad, the defense attorneys argue, allowing Guantánamo personnel to read documents and then decide whether they agree with the lawyer that the documents should be considered privilege.
The defense lawyers' refusal to send mail to their clients applies to about 30 detainees who could some day face a war-crimes tribunal. The remainder of the 171 Guantánamo captives have either been cleared for release or will be held indefinitely with no prospect of trial because of problems with the evidence against them.