Thursday, April 29, 2010


Reporting from Guantanamo, Spencer Ackerman captures a chaotic scene at what was supposed to be a pre-trial hearing for Omar Khadr:

Omar Khadr’s pre-trial hearing this morning experienced an unexplained hour-long delay. Court officers filtered in at 10 a.m., without a certain important individual: Omar Khadr.

Prosecution promptly called a marine corps captain, Laura Bruzzese, to testify that she informed Khadr at 5:15 a.m. that there was a hearing scheduled for this morning. Khadr had a blanket over his head and complained of pain in his left eye, which has been sightless after an injury sustained during his 2002 capture in Afghanistan. She had him escorted to the infirmary, where he received an eyedrop for the pain, and in Camp Delta security officers attempted to load Khadr into a van to transport him to court. Part of that transfer involved putting what Bruzzese called “Eyes and Ears” on Khadr: blackout ski goggles and earmuffs to block out his senses while in transit.

Only Khadr refused. When Brezzese asked him why he wouldn’t wear the Eyes and Ears — standard operating procedure for transiting a detainee, she testified — Khadr responded, “The only purpose is to humiliate me.” [...]

Defense counsel Barry Coburn and his partner, Kobie Flowers, are now racing to Camp Echo, where detainees meet with their lawyers, to talk to Khadr. Neither would tell me in the confusion of the courtroom which option they’d choose. But they brought along Steve Xemakis, a mental health expert, to evaluate Khadr — most likely so that if Khadr declines to attend, they could proffer an expert statement about how voluntary he considers his absence.

“How quick can we get on the road, guys?” was the last thing I heard Coburn say before his team raced out the door.

Read the full account here: