Hidden microphone was reason for defense lawyers quitting USS Cole bombing case

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USS Cole/Wikimedia Commons.

The Miami Herald has learned why three civilian defense lawyers resigned from representing their Guantanamo client, the accused mastermind of the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.

The newspaper obtained a 15-page declassified prosecution filing that said the lawyers resigned after discovering a microphone in their special client meeting room and being denied a chance to investigate. The microphone was discovered in August and the lawyers resigned in October.

Prosecutors said the microphone had been installed in the room for interrogations and was never turned on during attorney-client meetings. After the lawyers resigned, prison workers removed flooring, walls and fixtures and confirmed that the microphones were not “in an operable condition” and were not connected to any listening or recording device, the prosecution document said.

The lawyers had represented Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The prosecution document, filed with the U.S. Court of Military Commissions Review, is aimed at reinstating the prosecution. The presiding judge in the case, Air Force Lt. Col. Vance Spath, suspended the trial after he tried unsuccessfully to order the civilian lawyers back into the case.

One of the lawyers who quit, Rick Kammen, told the Herald that the prosecution account is a “really grotesque selective declassification” designed to permit “some portion of the truth to seep out, but only in ways that the government feels will help it.”

“It’s good to see the truth beginning to come out,” he said. “But the reality is more than what they’ve declassified.”

Kammen did not elaborate because some information remains classified.

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