Judge: CIA interrogations not relevant to 9/11 accused's sanity



U.S. military defense lawyers for accused 9/11 conspirator Ramzi bin al Shibh cannot learn what interrogation techniques CIA agents used on the Yemeni before he was moved to Guantánamo to be tried as a terrorist, an Army judge has ruled.

Bin al Shibh, 37, is one of five men charged in a complex death penalty prosecution by military commission currently under review by the Obama administration. He allegedly helped organize the Hamburg, Germany, cell of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers before the suicide mission that killed 2,974 people in New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.

But his lawyers say he suffers a ``delusional disorder,'' and hallucinations in his cell at Guantánamo may leave him neither sane enough to act as his own attorney nor to stand trial. Prison camp doctors treat him with psychotropic drugs.

Army Col. Stephen Henley, the military judge on the case, has scheduled a competency hearing for mid-September.

Meantime, the judge ruled on Aug. 6 that ``evidence of specific techniques employed by various governmental agencies to interrogate the accused is . . . not essential to a fair resolution of the incompetence determination hearing in this case.'' The Miami Herald obtained a copy of the ruling Monday.

Prosecutors had invoked a national security privilege in seeking to shield the details from defense lawyers. They argue that Bin al Shibh is sane enough to stand trial with alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and three other alleged co-conspirators.

Many of the techniques used on the men have already been made public. They included waterboarding, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation methods meant to break a captive's will to hide al Qaeda secrets.

But Navy Cmdr. Suzanne Lachelier, the Yemeni's Pentagon appointed defense attorney, said court-approved mental health experts -- as well as the judge -- need to know the specifics to assess her client's mental illness.

If he suffers a long-standing psychosis, she said, he may never be made competent for trial. But if he suffers post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his CIA interrogations, there may be PTSD treatments that could make him competent.

Henley said he was relying on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld Guantánamo detainees' rights to contest their detention in refusing the military lawyers the details of Bin al Shibh's secret ``black site'' interrogations before his September 2006 transfer to military custody.

In Boumediene v. Bush, the judge noted, the justices said the courts must balance national security secrets with the right of an accused to challenge any evidence being used against him.

In this instance, Lachelier said her defense team didn't seek to rebut the government's case but wanted to know the details of his interrogation in order to let medical staff assess his competency.

``We're not trying to point a finger at an institution,'' she said. ``We're just trying to rule in or out certain diagnoses.'

Moreover, she said, under war court rules, the judge could have ordered Bin al Shibh's interrogation history sealed and only available to defense attorneys and others involved in the case with top-secret security clearances.
The Miami Herald

I have another good idea

Let's make assault, battery and abuse lawful and just give victims PTSD treatment!

A new market for psychiatrists emerges! No more playing the "victim" card! Shape up, wimps, you're of no use to us if you're a mental wreck!

"McClatchy-Truth to Power" News Service link to Miami Herald

Guantanamo: Beyond the Law
An eight-month McClatchy investigation of the detention system created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has found that the U.S. imprisoned innocent men, subjected them to abuse, stripped them of their legal rights...."
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