On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal case regarding Saudi Arabian national Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri's suspected involvement in the November, 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 US Navy sailors.
Al-Nashiri could face the death penalty for allegedly plotting the attack against the USS Cole, what prosecutors say was a war crime, as well as a similar attack on a French oil tanker in October, 2002. The suspect was been held at secret "black site" prisons from 2002 until 2006 before being transferred to a US Navy facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the man has been detained for 11 years.
The Saudi's civilian attorneys argued that al-Nashiri suffers various mental and physical injuries as a result of torture practices, including the now-banned technique known as waterboarding, which started at the secret prisons and continued following the relocation to Gitmo, according to a Monday Constitution report by veteran SCOTUS report Lyle Denniston.
Al-Nashiri's civilian attorneys have been ordered by defense officials to cease representing him, citing ambiguous ethical concerns, Denniston reports, though he does retain a military attorney for representation in his uncompleted case with the Guantanamo Bay military tribunal.
"A civilian federal appeals court in Washington, DC, which has authority to review appeals from Guantanamo tribunals, ruled that al-Nashiri could not challenge those commissions' powers unless and until after he had been convicted in such a trial," the journalist says. The man's civilian lawyers said in their appeal the case won't go to trial for at least seven more years.
Last week, the Supreme Court declined to review a case on Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, who created recruiting videos for Bin Laden using the USS Cole bombing as footage, effectively upholding the Yemeni's life sentence in prison. The court has not reviewed a Guantanamo case since 2008, when it ruled to grant detainees on the island the ability to dispute their detention in US civilian courts.
The attack, which happened in Aden, Yemen, killed 17 US Navy seamen but could have brought down the ship and its entire crew if it weren't for the sailors aboard the vessel.
"We had to fight for the next 36 hours to save our ship" following the bombing that blew a 40 by 60 foot gash in the vessel's side, retired US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bob Overturf told the Bowling Green Daily News this past September.
"The US had intelligence information that a US Navy ship was being targeted by (Osama) Bin Laden," the retired sailor said.