A new report questions “suicides” at Guantanamo

Posted: December 8th, 2009 by Militant Libertarian

by Glenn Greenwald, Salon

md_horizOn the night of June 10, 2006, three Guantanamo detainees were found dead in their individual cells.  Without any autopsy or investigation, U.S. military officials proclaimed “suicide by hanging” as the cause of each death, and immediately sought to exploit the episode as proof of the evil of the detainees.  Admiral Harry Harris, the camp’s commander, said it showed “they have no regard for life” and that the suicides were “not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetric warfare aimed at us here at Guantanamo”; another official anonymously said that the suicides showed the victims were “committed jihadists [who] will do anything they can to advance their cause,” while another sneered that “it was a good PR move to draw attention.”

Questions immediately arose about how it could be possible that three detainees kept in isolation and under constant and intense monitoring could have coordinated and then carried out group suicide without detection, particularly since the military claimed their bodies were not found for over two hours after their deaths.  But from the beginning, there was a clear attempt on the part of Guantanamo officials to prevent any outside investigation of this incident.  To allay the questions that quickly emerged, the military announced it would conduct a sweeping investigation and publicly release its finding, but it did not do so until more than two years later when — in August, 2008 — it released a heavily redacted reported purporting to confirm suicide by hanging as the cause.  Two of the three dead detainees were Saudis and one was Yemeni; they had been detained for years without charges; one of them was 17 years old at the time he was detained and 22 when he died; and they had participated in several of the hunger strikes at the camp to protest the brutality, torture and abuse to which they were routinely subjected.  Perversely, one of the three victims had been cleared for release earlier that month.

A major new report from Seton Hall University School of Law released this morning raises serious doubts about both the military’s version of events and the reliability of its investigation.  The Report details that the three men “died under questionable circumstances”; that “the investigation into their deaths resulted in more questions than answers”; and that “without a proper investigation, it is impossible to determine the circumstances of the three detainees’ deaths.”  The 54-page, heavily-documented Report raises numerous troubling questions, as illustrated by these (click images to enlarge):

There is one way that a meaningful investigation could be conducted into what happened to these three detainees:  a lawsuit filed in federal court by the parents of two of the detainees against various Bush officials for the torture and deaths of their sons — who had never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any wrongdoing (indeed, one had been cleared for release).  By itself, discovery in that lawsuit would shed critical light on what was done to these detainees and what caused their deaths.

Read the rest at this link.


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