In a piece published in yesterday’s Miami Herald, noted Guantanamo journalist Carol Rosenberg announced that military judge James Pohl will allow defense attorneys to photograph the scars on the wrists and ankles of accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed (“KSM”) and his co-defendant Walid bin Attash. This is a significant development, as it could be used in the trial of KSM and his alleged 9/11 co-conspirators to demonstrate that the men were subjected to torture while they were being held in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.
Rosenberg says, “Pohl didn’t rule that the photos of Mohammed and bin Attash would necessarily be classified. In the event intelligence authorities don’t classify the images, however, he invoked a war-court protective order he devised that prevents release of non-secret material “where disclosure is detrimental to the public interest.” She continues, “Pohl did not elaborate in his three-page ruling on how the public interest would be damaged if the public sees photos of scars on the men the CIA kept in secret prisons for three years before Bush had them delivered to Guantánamo in 2006 for trial. Agents captured those two men in Pakistan in 2003 and spirited them to secret sites around the world, out of reach of the International Committee of the Red Cross.”
Just as everything at Guantanamo is more complicated than it seems, the simple act of photographing a defendant to preserve evidence in his death penalty trial has become a battle between the defendant’s rights and prosecutors’ efforts to protect the image of the U.S. and put forth the best possible case.
The article can be found in its entirety here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/02/3792148/guantanamo-judge-lets-lawyers.html#storylink=cpy
Kelly Ann Taddonio, Senior Research Fellow
Center for Policy & Research