NYT~ Trial Guide: The Cole Bombing Case at Guantánamo Bay

June 16, 2023

Note: For the Remaining Month of June, 2023, Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) Will Continue With the USS Cole Bombing Pre-Trial Proceedings.

C-VINE volunteers will continue monitoring and providing updates throughout this month, but for the purpose of this report, we thought some may appreciate a historical background on this case.

Carol Rosenberg gave an excellent synopsis through her New York Times Report in April 2023, and we uploaded parts of it here for educational purposes…

~~~ Linda Forsythe

Trial Guide: The Cole Bombing Case at Guantánamo Bay

What to know about the death-penalty prosecution of a Saudi prisoner accused of plotting the attack on a Navy destroyer off Yemen in 2000 that killed 17 sailors.

The destroyer Cole was attacked by suicide bombers during a routine refueling stop in the port of Aden, Yemen, on Oct. 12, 2000.

The Saudi citizen Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is accused of organizing the Qaeda bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer Cole on Oct. 12, 2000. Two men sailed a bomb-laden skiff alongside the Cole during a routine refueling stop in the port of Aden, Yemen, then blew themselves up. Seventeen American sailors died, and dozens more were wounded. Mr. Nashiri is also accused of a role in the 2002 bombing of the Limburg, a French-flagged, Malaysian-chartered tanker that was carrying Iranian crude oil. A Bulgarian crew member was killed in that attack.

The Cole bombing case is the lesser known of the two death-penalty cases being pursued at a military commission at Guantánamo Bay. The other is the case against the five men accused of plotting the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

There is currently no date set. The judge said in a ruling on Sept. 28 that it was too soon because of “the large number of fact intensive and complex issues requiring resolution before trial.”

The case has been in pretrial proceedings since Mr. Nashiri’s arraignment in November 2011, in part because of higher court challenges by both the prosecution and defense lawyers to decisions by the case judges, and in part because two years of judicial rulings by an earlier judge were thrown out when he was found to have a conflict of interest. A major impediment has been the slow pace of disclosure to defense lawyers about the C.I.A. prison network, known as black sites, where the defendant was held for four years before his transfer to Guantánamo in September 2006. Hearings also were put on hiatus for more than 500 days because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack on the Cole, which killed 17 American sailors.
Credit…Thomas Kienzle/Associated Press

Seventeen sailors were killed in the attack: Kenneth E. Clodfelter, 21; Richard Costelow, 35; Lakeina M. Francis, 19; Timothy L. Gauna, 21; Cherone L. Gunn, 22; James R. McDaniels, 19; Marc I. Nieto, 24; Ronald S. Owens, 24; Labika N. Palmer, 22; Joshua L. Parlett, 19; Patrick H. Roy, 19; Kevin S. Rux, 30; Ronchester M. Santiago, 22; Timothy L. Saunders, 32; Gary G. Swenchonis Jr., 26; Andrew Triplett, 31, and Craig B. Wibberley, 19.

A liaison to the victims, who works for the prosecution, selects surviving crew members as well as family members of those who were killed in the attacks to observe the proceedings at Guantánamo Bay. Shipmates from that day and the parents of fallen sailors have become familiar faces in the gallery at the back of the court, where members of the public who gain admission to the national security court can watch the proceeding live and hear the audio on a 40-second delay. Family members and victims of the attack can also observe a video feed of the proceedings from a viewing room in Norfolk, Va., the home port of the Cole.

You may read the remaining part of the New York Times report HERE.