Detainee Attash Admits to Cole, Embassy Bombings According to a Pentagon transcript, Waleed bin Attash has confessed to plotting the bomb attack on the USS Cole near Yemen in 2000. Attash also admits to planning the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, according to the document.
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Detainee Attash Admits to Cole, Embassy Bombings

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Detainee Attash Admits to Cole, Embassy Bombings

Detainee Attash Admits to Cole, Embassy Bombings

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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

JACKIE NORTHAM: The transcript hints of a stiff, short hearing with little back-and-forth between the players. Eugene Fidell, a Washington lawyer and president of the National Institute for Military Justice, says he's astonished at the lack of curiosity among the three officers hearing Attash's case.

EUGENE FIDELL: You'd think that they'd have a million questions for these people, but they don't. In the latest transcript, they have one or two but there's no follow-up. It's a lack of curiosity that sort of baffles me, really.

NORTHAM: Wells Dixon, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents hundreds of Guantanamo detainees, says the breadth and the seeming ease with which the confessions are made is disturbing.

WELLS DIXON: I think the only question that remains to be asked is whether these confessions were coerced, whether they were the product of torture or coercion, particularly torture that occurred while these men were detained in CIA secret prisons.

NORTHAM: David Rivkin, a Washington lawyer who worked in the Justice Department under President Reagan and the first President Bush, says it could be argued that the detainees have been in prison so long that they don't know what they're doing, but he doubts it.

DAVID RIVKIN: Let's take people and what they're saying at face value, provided it's corroborated by the facts. There could be a little bit of puffery involved, but fundamentally these people are telling the truth. And the reason they're telling the truth is because they're proud of what they've done. It fits into the ideological narratives. They think they're doing the right thing.

NORTHAM: But the CCR's Dixon says the validity of the confessions needs to be tested.

DIXON: And the only way that you can tell whether they've made a knowing and voluntary confession is to test those confessions in open court, that is with an attorney present, with the evidence presented, with the ability to cross-examine.

NORTHAM: Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington.

SIEGEL: And you can read the transcript of Waleed bin Attash's confession at npr.org.

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