Guantánamo

Guantánamo judge: No need to order MRI of accused USS Cole bomber’s brain

This sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin shows Saudi Abd al Rahim al Nashiri during his military commissions arraignment at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Nov. 9, 2011. A war court security official approved its publication.
This sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin shows Saudi Abd al Rahim al Nashiri during his military commissions arraignment at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Nov. 9, 2011. A war court security official approved its publication. POOL SKETCH ARTIST

A Guantánamo war court judge has denied a defense lawyer’s request to have doctors conduct an MRI scan of the accused USS Cole bomber's brain.

A Pentagon paid, civilian death-penalty defender, Rick Kammen, argued for the MRI at the war court in August, saying former CIA captive Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, 49, might have “organic brain damage.” Kammen said he had an obligation to investigate for potential mitigation evidence as part of preparation for the capital tribunal.

In his three-page ruling, now posted on the Office of Military Commissions website, Air Force Col. Vance Spath, the judge, did not address the fact that there is no magnetic resonance imaging device at Guantánamo. The U.S. Navy base prison ordered and purchased one, but then military commanders reassigned it to treat troops and their families in Georgia.

Instead Spath ruled against the request for two reasons:

▪ He wasn’t persuaded that military medical staff provide “inadequate” healthcare or showed “deliberate indifference” to the medical needs of Nashiri, the Saudi accused of orchestrating al-Qaida’s suicide attack on the USS Cole warship off Yemen on Oct. 12, 2000. Seventeen American sailors were killed, and dozens more were wounded.

▪ Defense lawyers didn't first make the request for the MRI scan to the senior Pentagon official in charge of the war court. The Pentagon recently announced the appointment of a former Marine general as Convening Authority for Military Commissions, a role designated as the first hurdle for defense attorneys seeking resources.

Kammen said Tuesday that defense attorneys already had a request pending at the Office of the Convening Authority.

CIA agents waterboarded Nashiri and subjected him to a mock execution before his arrival at Guantánamo in 2006. He subsequently got a military medical diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A consultant who examined Nashiri said the scan was necessary in order to determine how to provide him with proper health treatment at the prison.

Follow @CarolRosenberg on Twitter

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments