ABOUT THE TRIAL
Next hearing: July 31 to Aug. 4, 2017. Judge Vance Spath plans to hear pretrial testimony from a Saudi captive, Ahmed al Darbi, against fellow Saudi, Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the USS Cole bombing off Yemen. Darbi, 42, has pleaded guilty and needs to testify before he goes home to serve a U.S. military war crimes sentence. Prosecutors want the testimony taken in closed session.
The judge also has scheduled a Sept. 11-29 hearing with a wide range of motions to be argued, to include testimony from four former CIA employee witnesses about the destruction of Black Site evidence.
Charges: Nashiri is charged with perfidy, murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, terrorism, conspiracy, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, and hazarding a vessel. He is accused of orchestrating al-Qaida’s bombings of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole Oct. 12, 2000 and the French oil tanker HMV Limburg in Oct. 6, 2002. He was arraigned at Guantánamo on Nov. 9, 2011. Prosecutors seek the death penalty.
Prosecutors: Army Brigadier General Mark S. Martins, chief prosecutor; former New Orleans-based Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark A. Miller, lead trial counsel; Army Colonel John B. Wells and Air Force Major Michael A. Pierson.
Defense attorneys: Richard Kammen of Indianapolis, veteran death penalty defender with “learned counsel” status; Navy Lieutenant Commander Jennifer L. Pollio; Department of Defense lawyers Rosa Eliades and Mary Spears, both civilians.
ABOUT ABD AL RAHIM AL NASHIRI
Born: Jan. 5, 1965 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Captured: October 2002 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, which held him initially then handed him over to the CIA.
Detention: He was held in five secret CIA overseas prisons, including one co-located at the detention center at Guantánamo in 2003 and 2004, before he was brought back to the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba in September 2006, according to the public portion of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence “Torture Report.” He is one of three former CIA captives the U.S. spy agency has admitted to waterboarding during his secret custody. The agency also made video recordings of him undergoing secret “enhanced interrogation techniques” but destroyed the recordings in 2005.
Torture: Court documents and the Senate report show the CIA force-fed him Ensure “rectally” for going on a hunger strike in May 2004. He also was alternately kenneled like a dog in a cage and hung nude by his arms to the point where a medical officer worried his arms would be dislocated. Other techniques used on him during interrogations included a CIA officer revving a cordless drill Nashiri’s head while he was blindfolded, cocking a pistol near his head, threatening to sexually abuse his mother and, according to a 2016 account by one of his interrogators using a “stiff-bristled brush to scrub his ass and balls and then his mouth and blowing cigar smoke in his face until he became nauseous.”
Health: A U.S. military panel concluded in 2013 that he suffers depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but is competent to stand trial. At the request of his lawyers, the case judge ordered an MRI of his brain before the trial could begin.
Profession: Told a 2007 military review that he was a merchant in Mecca who by 19 was a millionaire. CIA profile released by the White House in 2006 said he was al-Qaida operations chief in the Arabian Peninsula at time of his capture.
Paramilitary background: CIA profile said he fought in Chechnya and Tajikistan and trained at the Khaldan camp in Afghanistan in 1992.
ABOUT THE USS COLE
The 8,300-ton warship is based in Norfolk, Virginia.
It was commissioned, a formal ceremony, at Port Everglades in 1996.
It was on a refueling stop in October 2000 when two al-Qaida suicide bombers drove a bomb-laden boat into the side, killing themselves and ultimately claiming the lives of 17 Americans.
ABOUT THE VICTIMS
They are represented at the hearings by shipmates and family of the 17 Americans killed that day:
▪ Hull Maintenance Technician Second Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, 21, of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
▪ Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow, 35, of Morrisville, Pennsylvania.
▪ Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis, 19, of Woodleaf, North Carolina.
▪ Information Systems Technician Timothy Lee Gauna, 21, of Rice, Texas.
▪ Signalman Seaman Cherone Louis Gunn, 22, of Rex, Georgia.
▪ Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels, 19, of Norfolk, Virginia.
▪ Engineman Second Class Marc Ian Nieto, 24, of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
▪ Electronics Warfare Technician Second Class Ronald Scott Owens, 24, of Vero Beach, Florida.
▪ Seaman Lakiba Nicole Palmer, 22, of San Diego.
▪ Engineman Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett, 19, of Churchville, Maryland.
▪ Fireman Patrick Howard Roy, 19, of Keedysville, Maryland.
▪ Electronics Warfare Technician First Class Kevin Shawn Rux, 30, of Portland, North Dakota.
▪ Mess Management Specialist Third Class Ronchester Manangan Santiago, 22, of Kingsville, Texas.
▪ Operations Specialist Second Class Timothy Lamont Saunders, 32, of Ringgold, Virginia.
▪ Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr., 26, of Rockport, Texas.
▪ Ensign Andrew Triplett, 31, of Macon, Mississippi.
▪ Seaman Craig Bryan Wibberley, 19, of Williamsport, Maryland.
In addition, a Bulgarian crewmember, Atanas Atanasov, 38, was killed in the Limburg bombing.
ABOUT THE WAR COURT
The Pentagon has built a $12 million Expeditionary Legal Complex with a snoop-proof courtroom capable of trying six alleged co-conspirators before one judge and jury, with an original vision of a six-defendant Sept. 11 terror plot conspiracy trial. Five men are charged in that case. Media and other observers are sequestered in a soundproofed room behind thick glass, at the rear, and hear the court audio feed on a 40-second delay. The judge at the front and a court security officer have mute buttons to silence the feed to the observers' booth — if they suspect someone in court could spill classified information. Pentagon workers have installed a curtain inside the spectators gallery to wall off victims, chosen by lottery, from the other observers at the back of the courtroom.
President Barack Obama’s plan to close the detention cener at Guantánamo, released Feb. 23, 2016, put costs of running the military commissions system at $91 million a year.
Later that year, Nashiri’s filed a legal motion with the judge seeking permission for the Saudi to spend hearing nights at the compound, in a holding cell outback. They argued he suffered on the commute between the court and the classified Camp 7 prison.
Updated: May 11, 2017
▪ March 15, 2017: Judge setting USS Cole bombing trial for 2018
▪ March 14, 2017: USS Cole judge declares media transparency challenge moot
▪ March 13, 2017: Emotionally drained crew kept USS Cole afloat while FBI collected evidence
▪ March 10, 2017: Going to Guantánamo war court makes USS Cole defendant want to puke
▪ March 9, 2017: Saudi plea deal to test Trump’s call for halt of Guantánamo transfers
▪ March 7, 2017: Guantánamo judge orders CIA testimony on destroyed ‘Black Site’ videotapes
▪ March 6, 2017: War court debates whether CIA is monitoring medical care of captive it waterboarded
▪ Feb. 10, 2017: Trump Justice Department delivers CIA ‘Torture Report’ to federal court
▪ Dec. 29, 2016: Federal judge preserves CIA ‘Torture Report’ after war court wouldn’t do it
▪ Dec. 16, 2016: Lawyer says USS Cole trial could start in 2018
▪ Dec. 15, 2016: Media appeal averts closed USS Cole case testimony
▪ Dec. 14, 2016: Guantánamo lawyer: We need to hear from the torturers
▪ Dec. 13, 2016: USS Cole case defenders seek data on death of Kuwaiti man killed by a drone attack
▪ Nov. 3, 2016: Prosecutor orders special probe of war court defense teams
▪ Oct. 19, 2016: Stubborn witness testifies at Guantánamo by video after night in Virginia jail
▪ Oct. 18, 2016: War court judge has U.S. Marshals seize no-show war court witness
▪ Oct. 16, 2016: Alleged USS Cole bombing mastermind wants war court sleepover
▪ Sept. 9, 2016: ‘Don’t forget the Cole,’ bombing survivor implores after Guantánamo hearings
▪ Sept. 6, 2016: After 18-month hiatus USS Cole trial participants return to Guantánamo
▪ June 30, 2016: USS Cole case judge orders first Guantánamo hearing since 2015