what is going on?
Nearly the entire defense team for the USS Cole bombing suspect has resigned under the suspicion that the U.S. government has been spying on their conversations with their client at Guantanamo Bay, the Miami Herald reports. "At present, I am not confident that the prohibition on improper monitoring of attorney-client meetings at [Guantanamo] ... is being followed," wrote the chief defense counsel, Brig. Gen. John Baker. "My loss of confidence extends to all potential ... meeting locations at [Guantanamo]."
The defense lawyers cannot discuss the specific details for their departure with either their client or the public because it involves classified information.
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri of Saudi Arabia stands accused of organizing the 2000 al Qaeda suicide bombing on the USS Cole off of Yemen, which killed 17 Americans. The death-penalty case was the first at Guantanamo in the post-9/11 era. "Pretrial hearings in the USS Cole case have gone on for nearly six years with both sides still litigating over what evidence Nashiri or his lawyers can see, how to substitute for destroyed CIA evidence, and how much damage Nashiri suffered while in CIA custody from 2002 to 2006," the Miami Herald writes. "Unclassified documents show he was waterboarded, abused rectally, confined to a coffin-sized box, and subjected to other 'enhanced interrogation techniques' to break him in interrogation."
On Friday, defense attorney Rick Kamman was released from the case, followed by the exit of two other defense attorneys. Nashiri is now only represented by the legal team's most junior member, who has no death penalty experience. Legally, the case cannot move forward without an experienced capital punishment lawyer.
Family members of victims and survivors claim the departures are a stunt by the defense, although Kammen said: "If the government would declassify all the various pleadings that are classified, they would understand why it's not. They would understand." Read the report at the Miami Herald.