Defense and prosecution lawyers sparred Wednesday over whether the accused USS Cole bomber should get an MRI of his brain before his death-penalty trial.

The request presented both a logistical and political challenge to the U.S. military. Congress forbids the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil even for medical emergencies. Also, although the prison ordered a $1.65 million magnetic resonance imaging machine nearly two years ago, it never arrived.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, 49, is accused of orchestrating Al-Qaida’s Oct. 12, 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole warship off Yemen that killed 17 American sailors. U.S. agents waterboarded him and interrogated him with threats of a power drill and a handgun.

Defense attorney Rick Kammen argued that the scan could prove “organic brain damage” and be used as evidence at the war crimes tribunal.

A defense torture expert, Dr. Sondra Crosby, testified in April that Al-Nashiri was a victim of torture and recommended the scan to evaluate PTSD-related memory loss.

Miami Herald