Former CIA captives who were held in a secret prison overseas network after the Sept. 11 attacks will for the first time be able to have video chats with their families, it was disclosed at the war court Thursday.
The men being granted Skype-like calls include some of the most unsympathetic of Guantanamo’s prisoners — the alleged senior plotters of major terrorist attacks, including the accused 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Details were scant. The chief prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, called them “near real time interactive discussions.” He credited the change in policy to continuous evaluation in the Obama administration era of the circumstances of confinement in Guantanamo’s most clandestine of prisons, Camp 7 — where six men awaiting death-penalty trials are held.
The timing of the disclosure was fortuitous: It came as lawyers for an alleged terrorist, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, 49, were asking a military judge to compel a video chat between him and his elderly parents, for reasons of mental health.
Al-Nashiri is accused of orchestrating al-Qaida’s suicide bombing of the USS Cole off Yemen on Oct. 12, 2000. Seventeen U.S. sailors were killed, and dozens more wounded. His lawyers, on medical advice, sought the video visit with his parents to ease his depression and PTSD. U.S. agents waterboarded him and subjected him to mock execution after his disappearance into the dark sites a dozen years ago.