By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Guantanamo judge allows disputed interrogation
Guantanamo Bin Lade 5265239
In this file photograph of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin, reviewed by the U.S. Military, defendant Salim Hamdan watches as FBI agent Craig Donnachie testifies about his interrogations of Hamdan, while a picture of disguised U.S. agents is displayed on a screen, during Hamdan's trial inside the war crimes courthouse at Camp Justice, the legal complex of the U.S. Military Commissions, at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, in Cuba, Thursday, July 24, 2008. Hamdan, the former driver for Osama bin Laden, is the first prisoner to face a U.S. war-crimes trial since World War II. - photo by Associated Press
    GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — A U.S. military judge ruled Thursday that prosecutors can use a disputed interrogation to support their case against a former driver for Osama bin Laden in the first Guantanamo war crimes trial.
    Lawyers for Salim Hamdan said the May 2003 interrogation, in which prosecutors say he swore allegiance to bin Laden, was not reliable and should not be admitted into evidence.
    The judge, Navy Capt. Keith Allred, did not immediately release his ruling and did not explain his reasoning in open court.
    Allred’s ruling cleared the way for Robert McFadden, an agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, to describe the interrogation to jurors as the final prosecution witness.
    Hamdan, a Yemeni, faces up to life in prison if convicted of conspiracy and aiding terrorism.
    McFadden, one of nearly a dozen interrogators to testify at the trial, said Hamdan swore an Islamic oath, or ‘‘bayat,’’ to bin Laden.
    Although Hamdan supported the killing of Jews and Christians on the Arabian peninsula, he told bin Laden he would withdraw from the oath if ‘‘the jihad became Muslim on Muslim or political violence,’’ McFadden said.
    ‘‘Mr. Hamdan said he was convinced by the need for seeking jihad,’’ he said.
    In the nine-hour interrogation at Guantanamo, McFadden said Hamdan also provided extensive details about bin Laden’s security convoys in Afghanistan.
    The reliability of the testimony was fiercely contested by defense lawyers, who say Hamdan was a low-level bin Laden employee who never joined his terrorist network. Hamdan took the witness stand Wednesday and denied telling McFadden that he pledged allegiance to bin Laden.
    Defense lawyers have said Hamdan made the statements to McFadden and other agents under the effects of abuse including sleep deprivation, solitary confinement and sexual humiliation.
    Earlier in the trial, Allred dismissed other Hamdan statements that he determined were made under ‘‘coercive’’ conditions in Afghanistan. He previously threatened to dismiss the Guantanamo interrogation as a penalty against prosecutors for failing to turn over hundreds of pages of documents to the defense until the start of the trial.
    McFadden, who provided Hamdan tea, raisins and dates during the interrogation, said Hamdan never complained of abuse to him and appeared to enjoy their conversation.
    The trial moved to a new, high-security courtroom Thursday as defense lawyers prepared to present witnesses.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter