Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Gitmo "Suicides"

Not enough media attention has been brought to the peculiar story of the three Gitmo prisoners who apparently simultaneously hanged themselves in 2006 in "an act of aymmetric warfare". From the very beginning, the story sounded fishy enough that a formal NCIS probe was conducted. The NCIS findings at that time supported the official military account that all three men died from self inflicted wounds. A recent expose from Scott Horton at Harper's Magazine, howver, raises some serious questions about what exactly happened on the night in question. Horton used the testimony of an former Gitmo tower guard who had come forward with his version of events, along with excerpts from a review of the NCIS report by a group of Seton Hall Law Scool students and professors, to compile his piece. Read Horton's article. Read the Seton Hall Review.

Here's a brief sampling of some of the questions the Seton Hall study raised:
The original military press releases did not report that the detainees had been dead for more than two hours when they were discovered, nor that rigor mortis had set in by the time of discovery.

There is no explanation of how three bodies could have hung in cells for at least two hours while the cells were under constant supervision, both by video camera and by guards continually walking the corridors guarding only 28 detainees.

There is no explanation of how each of the detainees, much less all three, could have done the following: braided a noose by tearing up his sheets and/or clothing, made a mannequin of himself so it would appear to the guards he was asleep in his cell, hung sheets to block vision into the cell—a violation of Standard Operating Procedures, tied his feet together, tied his hands together, hung the noose from the metal mesh of ii the cell wall and/or ceiling, climbed up on to the sink, put the noose around his neck and released his weight to result in death by strangulation, hanged until dead and hung for at least two hours completely unnoticed by guards.

There is no indication that the medics observed anything unusual on the cell block at the time that the detainees were hanging dead in their cells.

The initial military press releases did not report that, when the detainees‘ bodies arrived at the clinic, it was determined that each had a rag obstructing his throat.

There is no explanation of how the supposed acts of ―asymmetrical warfare‖ could have been coordinated by the three detainees, who had been on the same cell block fewer than 72 hours with occupied and unoccupied cells between them and under constant supervision.

There is no explanation of why the Alpha Block guards were advised that they were suspected of making false statements or failing to obey direct orders.

There is no explanation of why the guards were ordered not to provide sworn statements about what happened that night.

There is no explanation of why the government seemed to be unable to determine which guards were on duty that night in Alpha Block.

There is no explanation of why the guards who brought the bodies to the medics did not tell the medics what had happened to cause the deaths and why the medics never asked how the deaths had occurred.

There is no explanation of why no one was disciplined for acts or failures to act that night.

There is no explanation of why the guards on duty in the cell block were not systematically interviewed about the events of the night; why the medics who visited the cell block before the hangings were not interviewed; or why the tower guards, who had the responsibility and ability to observe all activity in the camp, were not interviewed.
-from Andrew Sullivan

Finally, there is the bizarre handling of the autopsies of the three bodies by US Military personnel. According to prominent American pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden, numerous violations in standard operating procedures were apparent in the handling of the bodies. When the bodies were returned to the next of kin, some internal organs had been removed. Requests for the American government to turn over the removed kidneys and hearts (so that a second opinion autopsy/toxicology screen could be performed) were denied. Even more outlandishly, it was found that the neck structures (larynx, hyoid bone) had been removed. Requests for these to be returned to family members were also denied. So what you have is a situation where the US Military claims that the detainees died from self-induced hangings. But in their report, they note that the hyoid bone of one of the victims had been broken. (This is most suggestive of homicidal strangulation, according to Dr Baden.) But because the military refuses to turn over the very structures involved in the immediate cause of death, no one will ever really know the answer.

It's all really quite chilling. But don't worry, we're just going to keep "moving forward". What's past is past.

One of the deceased was a 17 year old kid when he was first detained and incarcerated at Gitmo. He had been there 4 years. At the time of his death he was on a list of prisoners to be released and sent home. No connection had ever been found between him and Al Qaeda or any other terrorist group....

1 comment:

Frank Drackman said...

Hey at least they didn't get Lap Choly's at Bethesda Naval Hospital.....