At Guantanamo Hearing, Alleged Cole Mastermind Is 'All Swagger'

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[The alleged mastermind of the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole was seen today for the first time in nine years during an arraignment in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It's the first test of the Obama administration's revamped rules for military commissions. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston was there.]

When Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri walked into the Guantanamo courtroom this morning, he was all swagger.

He was wearing a white prison uniform and black high top sneakers and even waved to the gallery that came to see him.

While he spoke almost exclusively in Arabic, aside from occasionally saying "yeah" or "wait a minute" to his lawyers, it was clear he was very engaged in the proceedings. He was answering the judge and occasionally smiling.

Before today, there had been some question as to how vigorous al-Nashiri would look.

He had been held in a CIA "black site" and had been subjected to waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques by interrogators before he came to Guantanamo.

Since then he has been in a secret maximum security facility here.

But he entered the courtroom without leg shackles. And while pictures taken of him before his arrest made him look thin and weedy, today he appeared to have bulked up — perhaps from working out.

Al-Nashiri, a 46-year-old Saudi, was formally arraigned. He is accused of masterminding the attack on the Cole that killed 17 service men and women. Scores more were injured. If convicted, he could be put to death.

As we reported earlier, the enhanced interrogation techniques used on him make this a complicated case. It means the military commission will have to grapple with torture in this case as well.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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