[JURIST] A US military judge ruled Monday that lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainee and accused 9/11 co-conspirator Ramzi bin al-Shibh [JURIST news archives] will not be allowed to tour secret CIA prisons, known as "black sites" where al-Shibh was detained, the Miami Herald reported [text] Tuesday. Al-Shibh's lawyers had sought access to the sites in order to determine whether he is competent to stand trial. Judge Stephen Henley denied the request, ruling that the sites have likely changed since 2006, rendering an inspection useless. Henley set a pre-trial hearing date for September 22 to determine al-Shibh's competency.
The ruling comes weeks after Henley ruled that al-Shibh's lawyers will not be made aware of what interrogation techniques were used on him [JURIST report] by the CIA prior to his transfer to Guantanamo Bay. Al-Shibh's military defense lawyer, Navy Commander Suzanne Lachelier, had argued that interrogation details were relevant to determining whether bin al-Shibh suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) [NIMH backgrounder] or a permanent psychological disability, which would in turn affect his competency to stand trial. Henley found that the details of al-Shibh's interrogation were not relevant to determining his current mental competency but would risk disclosure of classified information. Last month, lawyers for terrorism suspect Ahmed Ghailani [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive], who is facing a civilian trial, requested access to CIA black sites [JURIST report]. There has been no ruling on that request.