By Tyler Pager and Paige Leskin
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — Three of the highest ranking military legal officers will testify Friday afternoon on whether the Pentagon was unlawfully involved in the USS Cole bombing trial.
The presiding judge, Air Force Maj. Gen. Vance Spath, ruled Friday morning that the testimony of three Judge Advocate Generals, known as JAGs, were relevant in considering whether a senior Defense Department official illegally interfered with trial by ordering Spath to permanently move to Guantanamo for the duration of the trial.
Spath stressed Friday his intent to “dispel for the public even the appearance” of unlawful influence in the trial of Abd Al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The alleged mastermind behind the USS Cole bombing in 2000, which killed 17 Americans, was arraigned in 2006 and faces the death penalty.
Navy JAG Vice Adm. Nanette DeRenzi is scheduled to give her testimony at noon, although the prosecution argued Friday morning would be unrelated to the issue at hand. However, Spath said he was interested in hearing about whether she discussed the relocation orders.
DeRenzi will testify Friday afternoon along with the JAGs of the Air Force and Army, scheduled at 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.