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Gitmo Court Pushed for Full Records on Tortured Saudi

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (CN) - The defense team for an accused 9/11 plotter wants the full access to his client's medical records for the 3 1/2 years he spent in CIA custody.

Army Lt. Col. Jennifer Williams, a defense attorney for Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, argued in military court Wednesday that the summaries of classified information provided so far by the government are inadequate.

What the prosecution has given sheds no light on how al-Hawsawi was tortured, or if he received medical treatment, Williams told Army Col. James L. Pohl, the military judge presiding over court proceedings.

"No details of this abuse and torture, the causes of injuries he continues to experience, are included in any of the government's discovery, whether classified or unclassified," a defense motion on the issue from April states.

All of what al-Hawsawi's defense team knows about his torture, Williams told Pohl, they gleaned from the Senate's report on the CIA's rendition, detention and interrogation program, and other documents in the public domain.

Other information, like lab reports and blood cell counts remain classified, she said at the hearing.

The prosecution turned over summaries of al-Hawsawi's medical records in 2014, before the Senate torture report was partially declassified.

Williams said those summaries indicate that, when he was taken into CIA custody, al-Hawsawi was a healthy, young male." Those summaries also indicate that normal rectal exams were performed, Williams noted.

Al-Hawsawi is accused of facilitating finances for the 9/11 hijackers and providing them with Western clothing. He is scheduled to undergo surgery Friday on the naval base to repair rectal prolapse — an injury blamed on having been sodomized in CIA custody a decade ago.

The Senate torture report indicates that rectal exams were performed with "excessive force" on several detainees.

Defense attorney Walter Ruiz told reporters on Monday that al-Hawsawi's lingering injuries mean he often chooses between eating and defecating. Bowel movements cause the detainee to have to "reinsert parts of his anus back into his anal cavity," Ruiz said.

Pohl must now decide whether the defense is entitled to the original, unredacted medical records, which they say are integral to learning what caused the injuries still plaguing al-Hawsawi today, including rectal prolapse, anal fissure, hearing loss, back pain, joint pain, blood in his urine and hepatitis C.

Williams suggested court Wednesday that the underlying records should be declassified.

Prosecutor Bob Swann told the court the government did revisit the summaries and other documents after the report's release, and gave additional information to the defense. A response by the government to the defense motion indicates that it did seek further classification review.

Swann objected to the repeated mention of torture in the courtroom.

"The real people that are being tortured are the ones sitting at the back of the room," Swann said, referring to the 9/11 family members present, who are chosen by lottery to attend the pretrial hearings.

In letting the defense proceed, however, Pohl found that the medical records directly relate to torture.

Williams shifted her argument in the afternoon session, asserting that Pohl had approved the summaries - after having looked at the original records - before considering the theory of defense in the largest capital case in U.S. history.

"Unfortunately this slipped through the cracks somehow," she said, noting that the defense theory would have helped Pohl decide if the summaries were in fact adequate.

Other things to slip through the cracks include a 14-hour torture session of al-Hawsawi on April 6, 2003, which Williams claims was not in the medical records Pohl reviewed from government production.

"There is no mention of this being something that happened to him," she said.

Williams cited a CIA memorandum from 2004 that mentions al-Hawsawi 22 times. Page 13 of the 22-page document outlines the 14-hour torture session.

"On 6 April 2003, [redacted] and [redacted] subjected Hawsawi to EITs lasting 14 non-stop hours," the document states, abbreviating enhanced interrogation techniques. "They confronted him with continuous rotational sessions of water-dousing, walling, attention grasps, facial holds, cramped confinement and psychological pressures."

Pohl pushed back on the issue and said Williams is assuming that the summaries are incorrect based on her belief that such information would be in the underlying medical records.

Williams said that public documents show medical records were done before and after the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. An absence of records could show "callous disregard," Williams said.

She also noted that al-Hawsawi lost 22 pounds in 21 days between June 19 and July 9, 2003.

Williams said the summaries the defense team received give no reason for the weight loss.

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