Video by Tyler/Medill News Service

By Tyler Pager and Paige Leskin

GUANTANAMO NAVAL BASE, Cuba — A military judge in the trial of the alleged mastermind in the bombing of the USS Cole said Tuesday he will not hear any further motions until the defense’s claim that a senior Pentagon official unlawfully involved himself is resolved.

That official, retired Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary, had ordered the trial judge, Air Force Col. Vance Spath, to physically move to Guantanamo Bay to speed up the trial. The defense argues that order is an unlawful influence on the proceedings. Ary, the civilian responsible for ordering military commissions, is set to testify in court Wednesday.

Spath, the judge presiding over the trial of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, said for the time being he will not rule on any further motions because the challenge on unlawful influence could impact the rest of the proceedings.

Al-Nashiri has been held in Guantanamo since in 2006, accused of multiple war crimes related to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen, resulting in the deaths of 17 Americans. He is also one of five high-level detainees named in the Senate’s 2014 CIA torture report as having been subjected to torture and interrogation methods, including waterboarding and rectal feeding.

The defense also asked to speak to four additional witnesses after getting documents from the prosecution related to the unlawful influence motion, including email correspondence.

Spath did not rule on those requests, but instructed the lawyers to check the witnesses’ availability so that, if their testimony is allowed, the trial would not be pushed back any further.