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The Pentagon Paid $370,000 To Rent An MRI For Guantanamo And It Doesn’t Work
There’s a problem with a mobile MRI unit being leased by the Pentagon for $370,000 to scan a suspected terrorist’s brain as a prelude to his death-penalty trial, a prosecutor announced in court Tuesday.
Army Col. John Wells disclosed the issue in the pretrial hearings in the case against Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, 52, a Saudi man awaiting a death-penalty trial as the suspected architect of the Oct. 12, 2000, bombing of the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors.
Air Force Col. Vance Spath, the trial judge, ordered the forensic scan in 2015. Wells told Spath that the magnetic resonance imaging equipment “is not functional and operational,” and requires maintenance.
The equipment has been parked for about a month outside the base’s Navy hospital.
It was delivered and installed properly, according to Air Force Maj. Ben Sakrisson, a Pentagon spokesman, and then it was discovered that liquid helium that was necessary “for the operation of the machine had dissipated.” Nobody could explain why that happened to the helium, Sakrisson said.
The broken equipment illustrates the complicated politics of maintaining a war on terror court and prison at this remote base. Although the Navy purchased a $1.65 million MRI for the prison in 2012, the U.S. Southern Command, which supervises Guantanamo prison operations, decided there was no need for the technology on the base of about 5,500 people. Instead, Southcom diverted it to an Army medical center in Georgia to treat troops.
Congress forbids the transfer of detainees to the United States, even for a medical procedure. So the Pentagon ultimately leased an MRI unit and shipped it down on a barge between hurricanes. Now it’s not functioning.
Sakrisson had no information on whether the Pentagon would have to pay more than the original $370,000, four-month rental fee. No detainee had been scanned before the problem, he said, although “all necessary personnel and medical staff have completed training and are certified to operate the equipment and conduct MRI testing.”
The lease is with the Office of Military Commissions, which runs the war court where 10 of Guantanamo’s 41 detainees have been charged with war crimes.
Spath ordered the scan of al-Nashiri’s brain at the request of defense attorneys who have since quit the case. They argued that signs of brain damage could be a factor in whether he is sentenced to death if he is convicted of orchestrating al-Qaida’s suicide bombing of the warship off Aden, Yemen.
Nashiri’s lawyers suspected he suffered brain damage from his four years in secret CIA prisons, 2002-06, where he was subjected to waterboarding, a mock execution, rectal rehydration and confined to a coffin-sized box to get him to spill any al-Qaida secrets he might know.
One of the spy agency’s approved “enhanced interrogation techniques” was walling, slamming a captive’s head into what was supposed to be a collapsible wall to get him to cooperate.
Military medical staff at Guantanamo have diagnosed al-Nashiri as suffering depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He voluntarily waived attendance at this week’s hearings. An Army lawyer assigned to the captives’ clandestine Camp 7 prison testified Monday that al-Nashiri said from inside his cell that he “wanted a day off.”
©2017 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Former Marine Commandant tells Trump that pardoning troops accused of war crimes 'relinquishes the moral high ground'
Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak has issued a statement urging President Donald Trump and members of Congress to oppose pardons for those accused or convicted of war crimes since, he argued, it would "relinquish the United States' moral high ground."
"If President Trump follows through on reports that he will mark Memorial Day by pardoning individuals accused or convicted of war crimes, he will betray these ideals and undermine decades of precedent in American military justice that has contributed to making our country's fighting forces the envy of the world," said Krulak, who served in the Marine Corps for more than three decades before retiring in 1999 as the 31st Commandant.
President Donald Trump will nominate Barbara Barrett to serve as the next Air Force secretary, the president announced on Tuesday.
"I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force," Trump tweeted. "She will be an outstanding Secretary! #FlyFightWin"
The Trump administration is trying to assure Congress that it does not want to start a war with Iran, but some lawmakers who fought in Iraq are not so sure.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford both briefed Congress on Tuesday about Iran. Shanahan told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. military buildup in the region has stopped Iran and its proxies from attacking U.S. forces, but the crisis is not yet over.
"We've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans," Shanahan said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East, and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone.
"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."
After a year and a half since the Army took delivery on the first of its souped-up new version of the M1 Abrams main battle tank, the Pentagon's Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio is ramping up to deliver the service's first full brigade of upgraded warhorses to bring the pain downrange.