Terrorism Trials & Investigations

2/19 Motions Session #1: In Which Al-Nashiri Opts to Keep His Learned Counsel

By Wells Bennett
Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 9:56 AM

So does Al-Nashiri want to fire his Learned Counsel?

That individual, attorney Richard Kammen, tells the military judge that he met with the accused for several hours Monday and Tuesday---and that lo, Al-Nashiri indeed wishes to have Kammen remain.  Judge Pohl asks Al-Nashiri whether that’s true; Al-Nashiri says he does, and asks for some leeway to air his thoughts.  Judge Pohl indulges him.

Al-Nashiri says, through a translator, that he is sorry for delaying the week’s court session.  The postponement affects him most, in his view.  Still, there were some matters he had to discuss with Kammen.  The accused says we are “here in a very strange court,” in which Kammen cannot provide Al-Nashiri with an arabic-speaking attorney of Al-Nashiri’s choice.  And he notes that some of his lawyers are not here at all; and that there are too many laws that the commission and counsel must apply.  Defense lawyers also cannot really talk to him about what happened in a closed or classified session---of which there are many.  How is that supposed to work?  All of the foregoing, Al-Nashiri says, prompted him to reconsider the composition of his defense team.  But after conferring with them some more, he now believes it is in his best interest to proceed with the current crew.

Court and counsel discuss further, the former noting the longtime litigation over the accused’s exclusion from closed sessions; the latter noting the extraordinary difficulty in maintaining client trust, given oppressive commission procedures and the abuses inflicted on Al-Nashiri by the CIA.

At any rate, game on: Kammen will stay on the case.