Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Murder @ Gitmo!

Mayhap you recall, back in '06, there were three reported "suicides" at Gitmo among detainees. According to Scott Horton, writing in this month's Harper's Magazine, and on line at the magazine's page,
Late in the evening on June 9 that year, three prisoners at Guantánamo died suddenly and violently. Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, from Yemen, was thirty-seven. Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, from Saudi Arabia, was thirty. Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, also from Saudi Arabia, was twenty-two, and had been imprisoned at Guantánamo since he was captured at the age of seventeen. None of the men had been charged with a crime, though all three had been engaged in hunger strikes to protest the conditions of their imprisonment. They were being held in a cell block, known as Alpha Block, reserved for particularly troublesome or high-value prisoners.
The situation was anamalous, though, because early medical reports of the means of their deaths--strangulation by hanging themselves from bed-sheets and underwear tied to the top of an 8-foot fence--that at least one of the dead bodies had both it's hands and feet bound, and two others had rags stuffed deeply into their mouths and throats. These factors were, however, overlooked, and the military hurriedly issued the judgment of suicide.

Horton reports than now new information has come to light which is leading investigators closer to the conclusion that the deaths were indeed homicides.
The official story of the prisoners’ deaths was full of unacknowledged contradictions, and the centerpiece of the report—a reconstruction of the events—was simply unbelievable.

According to the NCIS, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and T-shirts and tied it to the top of his cell’s eight-foot-high steel-mesh wall. Each prisoner was able somehow to bind his own hands, and, in at least one case, his own feet, then stuff more rags deep down into his own throat. We are then asked to believe that each prisoner, even as he was choking on those rags, climbed up on his washbasin, slipped his head through the noose, tightened it, and leapt from the washbasin to hang until he asphyxiated. The NCIS report also proposes that the three prisoners, who were held in non-adjoining cells, carried out each of these actions almost simultaneously...
Now four members of the Military Intelligence unit assigned to guard Camp Delta, including a decorated non-commissioned Army officer who was on duty as sergeant of the guard the night of June 9–10, have furnished an account dramatically at odds with the NCIS report—a report for which they were neither interviewed nor approached.

All four soldiers say they were ordered by their commanding officer not to speak out, and all four soldiers provide evidence that authorities initiated a cover-up within hours of the prisoners’ deaths. Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman and men under his supervision have disclosed evidence in interviews with Harper’s Magazine that strongly suggests that the three prisoners who died on June 9 had been transported to another location prior to their deaths. The guards’ accounts also reveal the existence of a previously unreported black site at Guantánamo where the deaths, or at least the events that led directly to the deaths, most likely occurred.
The entire Harper's article is quite long, and exhaustive. But I think the link won't open unless you're a Harper's subscriber (I am; the Feb # with this story on the cover, arrived yesterday.). As always, I recommend subscribing to the Most Intelligent Magazine in the USofA. News-stand prices, whilst worth the price, are high-ish, so save money and subscribe; you should be reading Harper's...

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