Author Topic: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle  (Read 19270 times)

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The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle

By Scott Horton
http://harpers.org/archive/2010/01/hbc-90006368

This is the full text of an exclusive advance feature by Scott Horton that will appear in the March 2010 Harper’s Magazine. The issue will be available on newsstands the week of February 15.


Guantanamo Map, Satellite photograph from Terraserver.

1. “Asymmetrical Warfare”
When President Barack Obama took office last year, he promised to “restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great.” Toward that end, the president issued an executive order declaring that the extra-constitutional prison camp at Guantánamo “shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order.” Obama has failed to fulfill his promise. Some prisoners are being charged with crimes, others released, but the date for closing the camp seems to recede steadily into the future. Furthermore, new evidence now emerging may entangle Obama’s young administration with crimes that occurred during the Bush presidency, evidence that suggests the current administration failed to investigate seriously—and may even have continued—a cover-up of the possible homicides of three prisoners at Guantánamo in 2006.

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.

As news of the deaths emerged the following day, the camp quickly went into lockdown. The authorities ordered nearly all the reporters at Camp America to leave and those en route to turn back. The commander at Guantánamo, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, then declared the deaths “suicides.” In an unusual move, he also used the announcement to attack the dead men. “I believe this was not an act of desperation,” he said, “but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.” Reporters accepted the official account, and even lawyers for the prisoners appeared to believe that they had killed themselves. Only the prisoners’ families in Saudi Arabia and Yemen rejected the notion.

Two years later, the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which has primary investigative jurisdiction within the naval base, issued a report supporting the account originally advanced by Harris, now a vice-admiral in command of the Sixth Fleet. The Pentagon declined to make the NCIS report public, and only when pressed with Freedom of Information Act demands did it disclose parts of the report, some 1,700 pages of documents so heavily redacted as to be nearly incomprehensible. The NCIS report was carefully cross-referenced and deciphered by students and faculty at the law school of Seton Hall University in New Jersey, and their findings, released in November 2009, made clear why the Pentagon had been unwilling to make its conclusions public. 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.

Al-Zahrani, according to the report, was discovered first, at 12:39 a.m., and taken by several Alpha Block guards to the camp’s detention medical clinic. No doctors could be found there, nor the phone number for one, so a clinic staffer dialed 911. During this time, other guards discovered Al-Utaybi. Still others discovered Al-Salami a few minutes later. Although rigor mortis had already set in—indicating that the men had been dead for at least two hours—the NCIS report claims that an unnamed medical officer attempted to resuscitate one of the men, and, in attempting to pry open his jaw, broke his teeth.

The fact that at least two of the prisoners also had cloth masks affixed to their faces, presumably to prevent the expulsion of the rags from their mouths, went unremarked by the NCIS, as did the fact that standard operating procedure at Camp Delta required the Navy guards on duty after midnight to “conduct a visual search” of each cell and detainee every ten minutes. The report claimed that the prisoners had hung sheets or blankets to hide their activities and shaped more sheets and pillows to look like bodies sleeping in their beds, but it did not explain where they were able to acquire so much fabric beyond their tightly controlled allotment, or why the Navy guards would allow such an obvious and immediately observable deviation from permitted behavior. Nor did the report explain how the dead men managed to hang undetected for more than two hours or why the Navy guards on duty, having for whatever reason so grievously failed in their duties, were never disciplined.

A separate report, the result of an “informal investigation” initiated by Admiral Harris, found that standard operating procedures were violated that night but concluded that disciplinary action was not warranted because of the “generally permissive environment” of the cell block and the numerous “concessions” that had been made with regard to the prisoners’ comfort, which “concessions” had resulted in a “general confusion by the guard and the JDG staff over many of the rules that applied to the guard force’s handling of the detainees.” According to Harris, even had standard operating procedures been followed, “it is possible that the detainees could have successfully committed suicide anyway.”

This is the official story, adopted by NCIS and Guantánamo command and reiterated by the Justice Department in formal pleadings, by the Defense Department in briefings and press releases, and by the State Department. 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.

Satellite photograph from Terraserver.

http://harpers.org/media/image/blogs/misc/guantanamo_map_lores.jpg


2. “Camp No”
The soldiers of the Maryland-based 629th Military Intelligence Battalion arrived at Guantánamo Naval Base in March 2006, assigned to provide security to Camp America, the sector of the base containing the five individual prison compounds that house the prisoners. Camp Delta was at the time the largest of these compounds, and within its walls were four smaller camps, numbered 1 through 4, which in turn were divided into cell blocks. Life at Camp America, as at all prisons, was and remains rigorously routinized for both prisoners and their jailers. Navy guards patrol the cell blocks and Army personnel control the exterior areas of the camp. All observed incidents must be logged. For the Army guards who man the towers and “sally ports” (access points), knowing who enters and leaves the camp, and exactly when, is the essence of their mission.

One of the new guards who arrived that March was Joe Hickman, then a sergeant. Hickman grew up in Baltimore and joined the Marines in 1983, at the age of nineteen. When I interviewed him in January at his home in Wisconsin, he told me he had been inspired to enlist by Ronald Reagan, “the greatest president we’ve ever had.” He worked in a military intelligence unit and was eventually tapped for Reagan’s Presidential Guard detail, an assignment reserved for model soldiers. When his four years were up, Hickman returned home, where he worked a series of security jobs—prison transport, executive protection, and eventually private investigations. After September 11 he decided to re-enlist, at thirty-seven, this time in the Army National Guard.

Hickman deployed to Guantánamo with his friend Specialist Tony Davila, who grew up outside Washington, D.C., and who had himself been a private investigator. When they arrived at Camp Delta, Davila told me, soldiers from the California National Guard unit they were relieving introduced him to some of the curiosities of the base. The most noteworthy of these was an unnamed and officially unacknowledged compound nestled out of sight between two plateaus about a mile north of Camp Delta, just outside Camp America’s perimeter. One day, while on foot patrol, Hickman and Davila came across the compound. It looked like other camps within Camp America, Davila said, only it had no guard towers and it was surrounded with concertina wire. They saw no activity, but Hickman guessed the place could house as many as eighty prisoners. One part of the compound, he said, had the same appearance as the interrogation centers at other prison camps.

The compound was not visible from the main road, and the access road was chained off. The Guardsman who told Davila about the compound had said, “This place does not exist,” and Hickman, who was frequently put in charge of security for all of Camp America, was not briefed about the site. Nevertheless, Davila said, other soldiers—many of whom were required to patrol the outside perimeter of Camp America—had seen the compound, and many speculated about its purpose. One theory was that it was being used by some of the non-uniformed government personnel who frequently showed up in the camps and were widely thought to be CIA agents.

A friend of Hickman’s had nicknamed the compound “Camp No,” the idea being that anyone who asked if it existed would be told, “No, it doesn’t.” He and Davila made a point of stopping by whenever they had the chance; once, Hickman said, he heard a “series of screams” from within the compound.

Hickman and his men also discovered that there were odd exceptions to their duties. Army guards were charged with searching and logging every vehicle that passed into and out of Camp Delta. “When John McCain came to the camp, he had to be logged in.” However, Hickman was instructed to make no record whatsoever of the movements of one vehicle in particular—a white van, dubbed the “paddy wagon,” that Navy guards used to transport heavily manacled prisoners, one at a time, into and out of Camp Delta. The van had no rear windows and contained a dog cage large enough to hold a single prisoner. Navy drivers, Hickman came to understand, would let the guards know they had a prisoner in the van by saying they were “delivering a pizza.”

The paddy wagon was used to transport prisoners to medical facilities and to meetings with their lawyers. But as Hickman monitored the paddy wagon’s movements from the guard tower at Camp Delta, he frequently saw it follow an unexpected route. When the van reached the first intersection, instead of heading right—toward the other camps or toward one of the buildings where prisoners could meet with their lawyers—it made a left. In that direction, past the perimeter checkpoint known as ACP Roosevelt, there were only two destinations. One was a beach where soldiers went to swim. The other was Camp No.

3. “Lit up”
The night the prisoners died, Hickman was on duty as sergeant of the guard for Camp America’s exterior security force. When his twelve-hour shift began, at 6 p.m., he climbed the ladder to Tower 1, which stood twenty feet above Sally Port 1, the main entrance to Camp Delta. From there he had an excellent view of the camp, and much of the exterior perimeter as well. Later he would make his rounds.

Shortly after his shift began, Hickman noticed that someone had parked the paddy wagon near Camp 1, which houses Alpha Block. A moment later, two Navy guards emerged from Camp 1, escorting a prisoner. They put the prisoner into the back of the van and then left the camp through Sally Port 1, just below Hickman. He was under standing orders not to search the paddy wagon, so he just watched it as it headed east. He assumed the guards and their charge were bound for one of the other prison camps southeast of Camp Delta. But when the van reached the first intersection, instead of making a right, toward the other camps, it made the left, toward ACP Roosevelt and Camp No.

Twenty minutes later—about the amount of time needed for the trip to Camp No and back—the paddy wagon returned. This time Hickman paid closer attention. He couldn’t see the Navy guards’ faces, but from body size and uniform they appeared to be the same men.

The guards walked into Camp 1 and soon emerged with another prisoner. They departed Camp America, again in the direction of Camp No. Twenty minutes later, the van returned. Hickman, his curiosity piqued by the unusual flurry of activity and guessing that the guards might make another excursion, left Tower 1 and drove the three quarters of a mile to ACP Roosevelt to see exactly where the paddy wagon was headed. Shortly thereafter, the van passed through the checkpoint for the third time and then went another hundred yards, whereupon it turned toward Camp No, eliminating any question in Hickman’s mind about where it was going. All three prisoners would have all reached their destination before 8 p.m.

Hickman says he saw nothing more of note until about 11:30 p.m, when he had returned to his preferred vantage at Tower 1. As he watched, the paddy wagon returned to Camp Delta. This time, however, the Navy guards did not get out of the van to enter Camp 1. Instead they backed the vehicle up to the entrance of the medical clinic, as if to unload something.

At approximately 11:45 p.m.—nearly an hour before the NCIS claims the first body was discovered—Army Specialist Christopher Penvose, preparing for a midnight shift in Tower 1, was approached by a senior Navy NCO. Penvose told me that the NCO—who, following standard operating procedures, wore no name tag—appeared to be extremely agitated. He instructed Penvose to go immediately to the Camp Delta chow hall, identify a female senior petty officer who would be dining there, and relay to her a specific code word. Penvose did as he was instructed. The officer leapt up from her seat and immediately ran out of the chow hall.

Another thirty minutes passed. Then, as Hickman and Penvose both recall, Camp Delta suddenly “lit up”—stadium-style flood lights were turned on, and the camp became the scene of frenzied activity, filling with personnel in and out of uniform. Hickman headed to the clinic, which appeared to be the center of activity, to learn the reason for the commotion. He asked a distraught medical corpsman what had happened. She said three dead prisoners had been delivered to the clinic. Hickman recalled her saying that they had died because they had rags stuffed down their throats, and that one of them was severely bruised. Davila told me he spoke to Navy guards who said the men had died as the result of having rags stuffed down their throats.

Hickman was concerned that such a serious incident could have occurred in Camp 1 on his watch. He asked his tower guards what they had seen. Penvose, from his position at Tower 1, had an unobstructed view of the walkway between Camp 1 and the medical clinic—the path by which any prisoners who died at Camp 1 would be delivered to the clinic. Penvose told Hickman, and later confirmed to me, that he saw no prisoners being moved from Camp 1 to the clinic. In Tower 4 (it should be noted that Army and Navy guard-tower designations differ), another Army specialist, David Caroll, was forty-five yards from Alpha Block, the cell block within Camp 1 that had housed the three dead men. He also had an unobstructed view of the alleyway that connected the cell block itself to the clinic. He likewise reported to Hickman, and confirmed to me, that he had seen no prisoners transferred to the clinic that night, dead or alive.

4. “He Could Not Cry out”
The fate of a fourth prisoner, a forty-two-year-old Saudi Arabian named Shaker Aamer, may be related to that of the three prisoners who died on June 9. Aamer is married to a British woman and was in the process of becoming a British subject when he was captured in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in 2001. United States authorities insist that he carried a gun and served Osama bin Laden as an interpreter. Aamer denies this. At Guantánamo, Aamer’s fluency in English soon allowed him to play an important role in camp politics. According to both Aamer’s attorney and press accounts furnished by Army Colonel Michael Bumgarner, the Camp America commander, Aamer cooperated closely with Bumgarner in efforts to bring a 2005 hunger strike to an end. He persuaded several prisoners to break their strike for a while, but the settlement collapsed and soon afterward Aamer was sent to solitary confinement. Then, on the night of June 9, 2006, Aamer says he was the victim of an act of striking brutality.

He described the events in detail to his lawyer, Zachary Katznelson, who was permitted to speak to him several weeks later. Katznelson recorded every detail of Aamer’s account and filed an affidavit with the federal district court in Washington, setting it out:

On June 9th, 2006, [Aamer] was beaten for two and a half hours straight. Seven naval military police participated in his beating. Mr. Aamer stated he had refused to provide a retina scan and fingerprints. He reported to me that he was strapped to a chair, fully restrained at the head, arms and legs. The MPs inflicted so much pain, Mr. Aamer said he thought he was going to die. The MPs pressed on pressure points all over his body: his temples, just under his jawline, in the hollow beneath his ears. They choked him. They bent his nose repeatedly so hard to the side he thought it would break. They pinched his thighs and feet constantly. They gouged his eyes. They held his eyes open and shined a mag-lite in them for minutes on end, generating intense heat. They bent his fingers until he screamed. When he screamed, they cut off his airway, then put a mask on him so he could not cry out.

The treatment Aamer describes is noteworthy because it produces excruciating pain without leaving lasting marks. Still, the fact that Aamer had his airway cut off and a mask put over his face “so he could not cry out” is alarming. This is the same technique that appears to have been used on the three deceased prisoners.

The United Kingdom has pressed aggressively for the return of British subjects and persons of interest. Every individual requested by the British has been turned over, with one exception: Shaker Aamer. In denying this request, U.S. authorities have cited unelaborated “security” concerns. There is no suggestion that the Americans intend to charge him before a military commission, or in a federal criminal court, and, indeed, they have no meaningful evidence linking him to any crime. American authorities may be concerned that Aamer, if released, could provide evidence against them in criminal investigations. This evidence would include what he experienced on June 9, 2006, and during his 2002 detention in Afghanistan at Bagram Airfield, where he was subjected to a procedure in which his head was smashed repeatedly against a wall. This torture technique, called “walling” in CIA documents, was expressly approved at a later date by the Department of Justice.

5. “You All Know”
By dawn, the news had circulated through Camp America that three prisoners had committed suicide by swallowing rags. Colonel Bumgarner called a meeting of the guards, and at 7 a.m. at least fifty soldiers and sailors gathered at Camp America’s open-air theater.

Bumgarner was known as an eccentric commander. Hickman marveled, for instance, at the colonel’s insistence that his staff line up and salute him, to music selections that included Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the reggae hit “Bad Boys,” as he entered the command center. This morning, however, Hickman thought Bumgarner seemed unusually nervous and clipped.

According to independent interviews with soldiers who witnessed the speech, Bumgarner told his audience that “you all know” three prisoners in the Alpha Block at Camp 1 committed suicide during the night by swallowing rags, causing them to choke to death. This was a surprise to no one—even servicemen who had not worked the night before had heard about the rags. But then Bumgarner told those assembled that the media would report something different. It would report that the three prisoners had committed suicide by hanging themselves in their cells. It was important, he said, that servicemen make no comments or suggestions that in any way undermined the official report. He reminded the soldiers and sailors that their phone and email communications were being monitored. The meeting lasted no more than twenty minutes. (Bumgarner has not responded to requests for comment.)

That evening, Bumgarner’s boss, Admiral Harris, read a statement to reporters:

An alert, professional guard noticed something out of the ordinary in the cell of one of the detainees. The guard’s response was swift and professional to secure the area and check on the status of the detainee. When it was apparent that the detainee had hung himself, the guard force and medical teams reacted quickly to attempt to save the detainee’s life. The detainee was unresponsive and not breathing. [The] guard force began to check on the health and welfare of other detainees. Two detainees in their cells had also hung themselves.

After praising the guards and the medics, Harris—in a notable departure from traditional military decorum—launched his attack on the men who had died on his watch. “They have no regard for human life,” Harris said, “neither ours nor their own.” A Pentagon press release issued soon after described the dead men, who had been accused of no crime, as Al Qaeda or Taliban operatives. Lieutenant Commander Jeffrey Gordon, the Pentagon’s chief press officer, went still further, telling the Guardian’s David Rose, “These guys were fanatics like the Nazis, Hitlerites, or the Ku Klux Klan, the people they tried at Nuremberg.” The Pentagon was not the only U.S. government agency to participate in the assault. Colleen Graffy, a deputy assistant secretary of state, told the BBC that “taking their own lives was not necessary, but it certainly is a good P.R. move.”

The same day the three prisoners died, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly completed a reporting trip to the naval base, where, according to his account on The O’Reilly Factor, the Joint Army Navy Task Force “granted the Factor near total access to the prison.” Although the Pentagon began turning away reporters after news of the deaths had emerged, two reporters from the Charlotte Observer, Michael Gordon and photographer Todd Sumlin, had arrived that morning to work on a profile of Bumgarner, and the colonel invited them to shadow him as he dealt with the crisis. A Pentagon spokesman later told the Observer it had been expecting a “puff piece,” which is why, according to the Observer, “Bumgarner and his superiors on the base” had given them permission to remain.

Bumgarner quickly returned to his theatrical ways. As Gordon reported in the June 13, 2006, issue of the Observer, the colonel seemed to enjoy putting on a show. “Right now, we are at ground zero,” Bumgarner told his officer staff during a June 12 meeting. Referring to the naval base’s prisoners, he said, “There is not a trustworthy son of a bitch in the entire bunch.” In the same article, Gordon also noted what he had learned about the deaths. The suicides had occurred “in three cells on the same block,” he reported. The prisoners had “hanged themselves with strips of knotted cloth taken from clothing and sheets,” after shaping their pillows and blankets to look like sleeping bodies. “And Bumgarner said,” Gordon reported, “each had a ball of cloth in their mouth either for choking or muffling their voices.”

Something about Bumgarner’s Observer interview seemed to have set off an alarm far up the chain of command. No sooner was Gordon’s story in print than Bumgarner was called to Admiral Harris’s office. As Bumgarner would tell Gordon in a follow-up profile three months later, Harris was holding up a copy of the Observer: “This,” said the admiral to Bumgarner, “could get me relieved.” (Harris did not respond to requests for comment.) That same day, an investigation was launched to determine whether classified information had been leaked from Guantánamo. Bumgarner was suspended.

Less than a week after the appearance of the Observer stories, Davila and Hickman each heard separately from friends in the Navy and in the military police that FBI agents had raided the colonel’s quarters. The MPs understood from their FBI contacts that there was concern over the possibility that Bumgarner had taken home some classified materials and was planning to share them with the media or to use them in writing a book.

On June 27, two weeks later, Gordon’s Observer colleague Scott Dodd reported: “A brigadier general determined that ‘unclassified sensitive information’ was revealed to the public in the days after the June 10 suicides.” Harris, according to the article, had already ordered “appropriate administrative action.” Bumgarner soon left Guantánamo for a new post in Missouri. He now serves as an ROTC instructor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Bumgarner’s comments appear to be at odds with the official Pentagon narrative on only one point: that the deaths had involved cloth being stuffed into the prisoners’ mouths. The involvement of the FBI suggested that more was at issue.

6. “An Unmistakable Message”
On June 10, NCIS investigators began interviewing the Navy guards in charge of Alpha Block, but after the Pentagon committed itself to the suicide narrative, they appear to have stopped. On June 14, the interviews resumed, and the NCIS informed at least six Navy guards that they were suspected of making false statements or failing to obey direct orders. No disciplinary action ever followed.

The investigators conducted interviews with guards, medics, prisoners, and officers. As the Seton Hall researchers note, however, nothing in the NCIS report suggests that the investigators secured or reviewed the duty roster, the prisoner-transfer book, the pass-on book, the records of phone and radio communications, or footage from the camera that continuously monitored activity in the hallways, all of which could have helped them authoritatively re-construct the events of that evening.

The NCIS did, however, move swiftly to seize every piece of paper possessed by every single prisoner in Camp America, some 1,065 pounds of material, much of it privileged attorney-client correspondence. Several weeks later, authorities sought an after-the-fact justification. The Justice Department—bolstered by sworn statements from Admiral Harris and from Carol Kisthardt, the special agent in charge of the NCIS investigation—claimed in court that the seizure was appropriate because there had been a conspiracy among the prisoners to commit suicide. Justice further claimed that investigators had found suicide notes and argued that the attorney-client materials were being used to pass communications among the prisoners.

David Remes, a lawyer who opposed the Justice Department’s efforts, explained the practical effect of the government’s maneuvers. The seizure, he said, “sent an unmistakable message to the prisoners that they could not expect their communications with their lawyers to remain confidential. The Justice Department defended the massive breach of the attorney-client privilege on the account of the deaths on June 9 and the asserted need to investigate them.”

If the “suicides” were a form of warfare between the prisoners and the Bush Administration, as Admiral Harris charged, it was the latter that quickly turned the war to its advantage.

7. “Yasser Couldn’t Even Make a Sandwich!”
When I asked Talal Al-Zahrani what he thought had happened to his son, he was direct. “They snatched my seventeen-year-old son for a bounty payment,” he said. “They took him to Guantánamo and held him prisoner for five years. They tortured him. Then they killed him and returned him to me in a box, cut up.”

Al-Zahrani was a brigadier general in the Saudi police. He dismissed the Pentagon’s claims, as well as the investigation that supported them. Yasser, he said, was a young man who loved to play soccer and didn’t care for politics. The Pentagon claimed that Yasser’s frontline battle experience came from his having been a cook in a Taliban camp. Al-Zahrani said that this was preposterous: “A cook? Yasser couldn’t even make a sandwich!”

“Yasser wasn’t guilty of anything.” Al-Zahrani said. “He knew that. He firmly believed he would be heading home soon. Why would he commit suicide?” The evidence supports this argument. Hyperbolic U.S. government statements at the time of Yasser Al-Zahrani’s death masked the fact that his case had been reviewed and that he was, in fact, on a list of prisoners to be sent home. I had shown Al-Zahrani the letter that the government says was Yasser’s suicide note and asked him whether he recognized his son’s writing. He had never seen the note before, he answered, and no U.S. official had ever asked him about it. After studying the note carefully, he said, “This is a forgery.”

Also returned to Saudi Arabia was the body of Mani Al-Utaybi. Orphaned in youth, Mani grew up in his uncle’s home in the small town of Dawadmi. I spoke to one of the many cousins who shared that home, Faris Al-Utaybi. Mani, said Faris, had gone to Baluchistan—a rural, tribal area that straddles Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan—to do humanitarian work, and someone there had sold him to the Americans for $5,000. He said that Mani was a peaceful man who would harm no one. Indeed, U.S. authorities had decided to release Al-Utaybi and return him to Saudi Arabia. When he died, he was just a few weeks shy of his transfer.

Salah Al-Salami was seized in March 2002, when Pakistani authorities raided a residence in Karachi believed to have been used as a safe house by Abu Zubaydah and took into custody all who were living there at the time. A Yemeni, Al-Salami had quit his job and moved to Pakistan with only $400 in his pocket. The U.S. suspicions against him rested almost entirely on the fact that he had taken lodgings, with other students, in a boarding house that terrorists might at one point have used. There was no direct evidence linking him either to Al Qaeda or to the Taliban. On August 22, 2008, the Washington Post quoted from a previously secret review of his case: “There is no credible information to suggest [Al-Salami] received terrorist related training or is a member of the Al Qaeda network.” All that stood in the way of Al-Salami’s release from Guantánamo were difficult diplomatic relations between the United States and Yemen.

8. “The Removal of the Neck Organs”
Military pathologists connected with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology arranged immediate autopsies of the three dead prisoners, without securing the permission of the men’s families. The identities and findings of the pathologists remain shrouded in extraordinary secrecy, but the timing of the autopsies suggests that medical personnel stationed at Guantánamo may have undertaken the procedure without waiting for the arrival of an experienced medical examiner from the United States. Each of the heavily redacted autopsy reports states unequivocally that “the manner of death is suicide” and, more specifically, that the prisoner died of “hanging.” Each of the reports describes ligatures that were found wrapped around the prisoner’s neck, as well as circumferential dried abrasion furrows imprinted with the very fine weave pattern of the ligature fabric and forming an inverted “V” on the back of the head. This condition, the anonymous pathologists state, is consistent with that of a hanging victim.

The pathologists place the time of death “at least a couple of hours” before the bodies were discovered, which would be sometime before 10:30 p.m. on June 9. Additionally, the autopsy of Al-Salami states that his hyoid bone was broken, a phenomenon usually associated with manual strangulation, not hanging.

The report asserts that the hyoid was broken “during the removal of the neck organs.” An odd admission, given that these are the very body parts—the larynx, the hyoid bone, and the thyroid cartilage—that would have been essential to determining whether death occurred from hanging, from strangulation, or from choking. These parts remained missing when the men’s families finally received their bodies.

All the families requested independent autopsies. The Saudi prisoners were examined by Saeed Al-Ghamdy, a pathologist based in Saudi Arabia. Al-Salami, from Yemen, was inspected by Patrice Mangin, a pathologist based in Switzerland. Both pathologists noted the removal of the structure that would have been the natural focus of the autopsy: the throat. Both pathologists contacted the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, requesting the missing body parts and more information about the previous autopsies. The institute did not respond to their requests or queries. (It also did not respond to a series of calls I placed requesting information and comment.)

When Al-Zahrani viewed his son’s corpse, he saw evidence of a homicide. “There was a major blow to the head on the right side,” he said. “There was evidence of torture on the upper torso, and on the palms of his hand. There were needle marks on his right arm and on his left arm.” None of these details are noted in the U.S. autopsy report. “I am a law enforcement professional,” Al-Zahrani said. “I know what to look for when examining a body.”

Mangin, for his part, expressed particular concern about Al-Salami’s mouth and throat, where he saw “a blunt trauma carried out against the oral region.” The U.S. autopsy report mentions an effort at resuscitation, but this, in Mangin’s view, did not explain the severity of the injuries. He also noted that some of the marks on the neck were not those he would normally associate with hanging.

9. “I Know Some Things You Don’t”
Sergeant Joe Hickman’s tour of duty, which ended in March 2007, was distinguished: he was selected as Guantánamo’s “NCO of the Quarter” and was given a commendation medal. When he returned to the United States, he was promoted to staff sergeant and worked in Maryland as an Army recruiter before settling eventually in Wisconsin. But he could not forget what he had seen at Guantánamo. When Barack Obama became president, Hickman decided to act. “I thought that with a new administration and new ideas I could actually come forward, ” he said. “It was haunting me.”

Hickman had seen a 2006 report from Seton Hall University Law School dealing with the deaths of the three prisoners, and he followed their subsequent work. After Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, he called Mark Denbeaux, the professor who had led the Seton Hall team. “I learned something from your report,” he said, “but I know some things you don’t.”

Within two days, Hickman was in Newark, meeting with Denbeaux. Also at the meeting was Denbeaux’s son and sometime co-editor Josh, a private attorney. Josh Denbeaux agreed to represent Hickman, who was concerned that he could go to prison if he disobeyed Colonel Bumgarner’s order not to speak out, even if that order was itself illegal. Hickman did not want to speak to the press. On the other hand, he felt that “silence was just wrong.”

The two lawyers quickly made arrangements for Hickman to speak instead with authorities in Washington, D.C. On February 2, they had meetings on Capitol Hill and with the Department of Justice. The meeting with Justice was an odd one. The father-and-son legal team were met by Rita Glavin, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; John Morton, who was soon to become an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security; and Steven Fagell, counselor to the head of the Criminal Division. Fagell had been, along with the new attorney general, Eric Holder, a partner at the elite Washington law firm of Covington & Burling, and was widely viewed as “Holder’s eyes” in the Criminal Division.

For more than an hour, the two lawyers described what Hickman had seen: the existence of Camp No, the transportation of the three prisoners, the van’s arrival at the medical clinic, the lack of evidence that any bodies had ever been removed from Alpha Block, and so on. The officials listened intently and asked many questions. The Denbeauxs said they could provide a list of witnesses who would corroborate every aspect of their account. At the end of the meeting, Mark Denbeaux recalled, the officials specifically thanked the lawyers for not speaking to reporters first and for “doing it the right way.”

Two days later, another Justice Department official, Teresa McHenry, head of the Criminal Division’s Domestic Security Section, called Mark Denbeaux and said that she was heading up an investigation and wanted to meet directly with his client. She went to New Jersey to do so. Hickman then reviewed the basic facts and furnished McHenry with the promised list of corroborating witnesses and details on how they could be contacted.

The Denbeauxs did not hear from anyone at the Justice Department for at least two months. Then, in April, an FBI agent called to say she did not have the list of contacts. She asked if this document could be provided again. It was. Shortly thereafter, Fagell and two FBI agents interviewed Davila, who had left the Army, in Columbia, South Carolina. Fagell asked Davila if he was prepared to travel to Guantánamo to identify the locations of various sites. He said he was. “It seemed like they were interested,” Davila told me. “Then I never heard from them again.”

Several more months passed, and Hickman and his lawyers became increasingly concerned that nothing was going to happen. On October 27, 2009, they resumed dealings with Congress that they had initiated on February 2 and then broken off at the Justice Department’s request; they were also in contact with ABC News. Two days later, Teresa McHenry called Mark Denbeaux and asked whether he had gone to Congress and ABC News about the matter. “I said that I had,” Denbeaux told me. He asked her, “Was there anything wrong with that?” McHenry then suggested that the investigation was finished. Denbeaux reminded her that she had yet to interview some of the corroborating witnesses. “There are a few small things to do,” Denbeaux says McHenry answered, “then it will be finished.”

Specialist Christopher Penvose told me that on October 30, the day following the conversation between Mark Denbeaux and Teresa McHenry, McHenry showed up at Penvose’s home in south Baltimore with some FBI agents. She had a “few questions,” she told him. Investigators working with her soon contacted two other witnesses.

On November 2, 2009, McHenry called Mark Denbeaux to tell him that the Justice Department’s investigation was being closed. “It was a strange conversation,” Denbeaux recalled. McHenry explained that “the gist of Sergeant Hickman’s information could not be confirmed.” But when Denbeaux asked what that “gist” actually was, McHenry declined to say. She just reiterated that Hickman’s conclusions “appeared” to be unsupported. Denbeaux asked what conclusions exactly were unsupported. McHenry refused to say.

10. “They Accomplished Nothing”
One of the most intriguing aspects of this case concerns the use of Camp No. Under George W. Bush, the CIA created an archipelago of secret detention centers that spanned the globe, and authorities at these sites deployed an array of Justice Department–sanctioned torture techniques—including waterboarding, which often entails inserting cloth into the subject’s mouth—on prisoners they deemed to be involved in terrorism. The presence of a black site at Guantánamo has long been a subject of speculation among lawyers and human-rights activists, and the experience of Sergeant Hickman and other Guantánamo guards compels us to ask whether the three prisoners who died on June 9 were being interrogated by the CIA, and whether their deaths resulted from the grueling techniques the Justice Department had approved for the agency’s use—or from other tortures lacking that sanction.

Complicating these questions is the fact that Camp No might have been controlled by another authority, the Joint Special Operations Command, which Bush’s defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had hoped to transform into a Pentagon version of the CIA. Under Rumsfeld’s direction, JSOC began to take on many tasks traditionally handled by the CIA, including the housing and interrogation of prisoners at black sites around the world. The Pentagon recently acknowledged the existence of one such JSOC black site, located at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, and other suspected sites, such as Camp Nama in Baghdad, have been carefully documented by human-rights researchers.

In a Senate Armed Services Committee report on torture released last year, the sections about Guantánamo were significantly redacted. The position and circumstances of these deletions point to a significant JSOC interrogation program at the base. (It should be noted that Obama’s order last year to close other secret detention camps was narrowly worded to apply only to the CIA.)

Regardless of whether Camp No belonged to the CIA or JSOC, the Justice Department has plenty of its own secrets to protect. The department would seem to have been involved in the cover-up from the first days, when FBI agents stormed Colonel Bumgarner’s quarters. This was unusual for two reasons. When Pentagon officials engage in a leak investigation, they generally use military investigators. They rarely turn to the FBI, because they cannot control the actions of a civilian agency. Moreover, when the FBI does open an investigation, it nearly always does so with great discretion. The Bumgarner investigation was widely telegraphed, though, and seemed intended to send a message to the military personnel at Camp Delta: Talk about what happened at your own risk. All of which suggests it was not the Pentagon so much as the White House that hoped to suppress the truth.

In the weeks following the 2006 deaths, the Justice Department decided to use the suicide narrative as leverage against the Guantánamo prisoners and their troublesome lawyers, who were pressing the government to justify its long-term imprisonment of their clients. After the NCIS seized thousands of pages of privileged communications, the Justice Department went to court to defend the action. It argued that such steps were warranted by the extraordinary facts surrounding the June 9 “suicides.” U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson gave the Justice Department a sympathetic hearing, and he ruled in its favor, but he also noted a curious aspect of the government’s presentation: its “citations supporting the fact of the suicides” were all drawn from media accounts. Why had the Justice Department lawyers who argued the case gone to such lengths to avoid making any statement under oath about the suicides? Did they do so in order to deceive the court? If so, they could face disciplinary proceedings or disbarment.

The Justice Department also faces questions about its larger role in creating the circumstances that lead to the use of so-called enhanced interrogation and restraint techniques at Guantánamo and elsewhere. In 2006, the use of a gagging restraint had already been connected to the death on January 9, 2004, of an Iraqi prisoner, Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Jameel, in the custody of the Army Special Forces. And the bodies of the three men who died at Guantánamo showed signs of torture, including hemorrhages, needle marks, and significant bruising. The removal of their throats made it difficult to determine whether they were already dead when their bodies were suspended by a noose. The Justice Department itself had been deeply involved in the process of approving and setting the conditions for the use of torture techniques, issuing a long series of memoranda that CIA agents and others could use to defend themselves against any subsequent criminal prosecution.

Teresa McHenry, the investigator charged with accounting for the deaths of the three men at Guantánamo, has firsthand knowledge of the Justice Department’s role in auditing such techniques, having served at the Justice Department under Bush and having participated in the preparation of at least one of those memos. As a former war-crimes prosecutor, McHenry knows full well that government officials who attempt to cover up crimes perpetrated against prisoners in wartime face prosecution under the doctrine of command responsibility. (McHenry declined to clarify the role she played in drafting the memos.)

As retired Rear Admiral John Hutson, the former judge advocate general of the Navy, told me, “Filing false reports and making false statements is bad enough, but if a homicide occurs and officials up the chain of command attempt to cover it up, they face serious criminal liability. They may even be viewed as accessories after the fact in the original crime.” With command authority comes command responsibility, he said. “If the heart of the military is obeying orders down the chain of command, then its soul is accountability up the chain. You can’t demand the former without the latter.”

The Justice Department thus faced a dilemma; it could do the politically convenient thing, which was to find no justification for a thorough investigation, leave the NCIS conclusions in place, and hope that the public and the news media would obey the Obama Administration’s dictum to “look forward, not backward”; or it could pursue a course of action that would implicate the Bush Justice Department in a cover-up of possible homicides.

Nearly 200 men remain imprisoned at Guantánamo. In June 2009, six months after Barack Obama took office, one of them, a thirty-one-year-old Yemeni named Muhammed Abdallah Salih, was found dead in his cell. The exact circumstances of his death, like those of the deaths of the three men from Alpha Block, remain uncertain. Those charged with accounting for what happened—the prison command, the civilian and military investigative agencies, the Justice Department, and ultimately the attorney general himself—all face a choice between the rule of law and the expedience of political silence. Thus far, their choice has been unanimous.

Not everyone who is involved in this matter views it from a political perspective, of course. General Al-Zahrani grieves for his son, but at the end of a lengthy interview he paused and his thoughts turned elsewhere. “The truth is what matters,” he said. “They practiced every form of torture on my son and on many others as well. What was the result? What facts did they find? They found nothing. They learned nothing. They accomplished nothing.”

Offline bigron

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2010, 04:53:49 am »
Dark as a Dungeon: A Brutal System Stripped Bare

by Chris Floyd

http://uruknet.com/index.php?p=m62316&hd=&size=1&l=e

January 18, 2010



If you really want to know the truth about the sickening wretches who run our country, if you want to know exactly what they will commit, what they will command, what they will countenance and conceal, all the way to the very top of the blood-greased pole of the Oval Office, then read every word of this astounding piece by Scott Horton in the new edition of Harper's: "The Guantanomo 'Suicides.'"

This is a full-length article which the magazine is making available for free on its website. In it, Horton unfolds the story of three men, almost certainly innocent, who were almost certainly murdered by American "interrogators" at a secret site in the American concentration camp in Guantanomo Bay, Cuba, on the night of June 9, 2006 -- an atrocity that set off a long, complex chain of deceit that continues to this day.

These killings were not only declared "suicides" by Washington; it was even claimed that the deaths were deliberate acts of "asymmetrical warfare" carried out by hardened terrorists -- "fanatics like the Nazis, Hitlerites, or the Ku Klux Klan, the people they tried at Nuremberg," as a Pentagon mouthpiece told the press. Yet as Horton notes, all three men had been put on "a list of prisoners to be sent home." One of them was only a few weeks away from his formal release. There was no credible evidence of terrorist connections against any of the men, two of whom had been sold into captivity by bounty hunters.

Yet these prisoners did have one black mark against them. They had been taking part in hunger strikes to protest conditions in the concentration camp. They were troublemakers, loudmouths. They wouldn't break. They had lawyers.

And so, according to a mass of credible evidence -- from heavily redacted official reports pieced together by the students and faculty at the law school of Seton Hall University, and from the courageous testimony of soldiers who had been on duty that night -- these three men, Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi and Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, were taken to a "black site" at Gitmo known as "Camp No." All regular military personnel were forbidden to enter the site, or even acknowledge its existence -- although some soldiers later testified to hearing screams from behind Camp No's concertina wire. Eyewitnesses say that three prisoners were taken, one by one, in a white van to Camp No on the night of June 9; and later, just before the alarm went up about the "suicides," the van returned and unloaded a mysterious cargo.

As Horton notes, the official accounts of the "suicides" are risible:



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.


[Yes, that's the same NCIS that has its noble adventures in the pursuit of truth and justice celebrated each week in a top-rated TV show.]

What really happened to the men? One clue comes from yet another hunger striker, Shaker Aamer, who was "interrogated" that same night, but managed to survive:



He described the events in detail to his lawyer, Zachary Katznelson, who was permitted to speak to him several weeks later. Katznelson recorded every detail of Aamer’s account and filed an affidavit with the federal district court in Washington, setting it out:


On June 9th, 2006, [Aamer] was beaten for two and a half hours straight. Seven naval military police participated in his beating. Mr. Aamer stated he had refused to provide a retina scan and fingerprints. He reported to me that he was strapped to a chair, fully restrained at the head, arms and legs. The MPs inflicted so much pain, Mr. Aamer said he thought he was going to die. The MPs pressed on pressure points all over his body: his temples, just under his jawline, in the hollow beneath his ears. They choked him. They bent his nose repeatedly so hard to the side he thought it would break. They pinched his thighs and feet constantly. They gouged his eyes. They held his eyes open and shined a mag-lite in them for minutes on end, generating intense heat. They bent his fingers until he screamed. When he screamed, they cut off his airway, then put a mask on him so he could not cry out.


The treatment Aamer describes is noteworthy because it produces excruciating pain without leaving lasting marks. Still, the fact that Aamer had his airway cut off and a mask put over his face "so he could not cry out" is alarming. This is the same technique that appears to have been used on the three deceased prisoners.

 
Aamer, who wife is British, continues to be held in the concentration camp, despite the UK government's request for his release, and despite the fact that there is "no suggestion that the Americans intend to charge him before a military commission, or in a federal criminal court, [or] indeed, [that] they have [any] meaningful evidence linking him to any crime." The only dangerous thing about Aamer is what he knows, and what he can tell.

Horton examines the official cover-up of these deaths in great detail. The deliberate and systematic deceptions began in the first hours after the killings -- and are still going on, carried forward with great guile by the Obama Administration. All along the way, evidence was destroyed, records were falsified, eyewitnesses were ignored -- or threatened. When the whistleblowers took the case to the new Administration in early 2009, hoping for a fairer hearing from the progressive young president, they were fobbed off with earnest promises of a thorough investigation by a team which included a close crony and former law partner of new Attorney General Eric Holder. But after months of inaction, the probe was suddenly closed, with government officials refusing to explain the decision.

Perhaps the most gruesome act in this bipartisan cover-up was the mutilation of the dead men's bodies. All three of them had their neck organs removed by military pathologists in the earliest stages of the investigation. As Horton notes:



An odd admission, given that these are the very body parts—the larynx, the hyoid bone, and the thyroid cartilage—that would have been essential to determining whether death occurred from hanging, from strangulation, or from choking. These parts remained missing when the men’s families finally received their bodies.


This mutilation -- "the removal of the structure that would have been the natural focus of the autopsy" -- prevented the families from carrying out proper forensic examinations of their own. Their request for the return of their children's body parts went unanswered.

All they are left with -- all we are left with -- are mutilated corpses and lies.

There is much more in Horton's piece, and again, I urge you to read it in full. Hold it in your mind the next time some sanctimonious official begins extolling the exceptional virtues of our shining city on the hill. And remember -- always remember -- that this militarist system of lawless violence and brutal domination is what our greasy pole-climbers, of whatever political stripe, want to have; it is what they want to wield. It is precisely this kind of power -- of life and death, of sway and command -- that they yearn for, fight for, cheat for and lie for in the bizarre and hollow rituals that our empire stages every four years.


 

Offline ES

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2010, 11:03:36 am »
Obama is now just as guilty as Bush for covering these murders up.
"My heroes are people who monkey wrench the new world order". - Jello Biafra

Mike Philbin

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2010, 11:43:05 am »
if this is TRUE - and only time will tell - it's HORRIFIC beyond anyone's worst corporate fears of a world gone money insane.

these criminals - these men under control - all want shooting, their bosses and themselves, our world can do without weak 'soldiers' and their cruel masters.

sorry, it needed to be said.

this is not what I signed on FREE PLANET for. Give me back my f**king planet already.

Offline bigron

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2010, 05:59:08 am »
Published on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 by The Telegraph/UK

Guantánamo 'Suicides' Were at Secret 'Black' Site

Three Guantánamo Bay detainees whose deaths were ruled to be suicides in 2006 were taken to a secret site on the island hours before their deaths, it has been claimed.

by Alex Spillius in Washington

A report in Harper's magazine said the deaths may have occurred at a previously undisclosed facility a mile or so from the main prison complex.

Detainess in Guantánamo Bay  (Photo: REUTERS)

 
Prison guards said they knew of the existence of the "black" site and saw three detainees removed from Camp Delta several hours before the deaths were reported.

Those who knew of the facility referred to it as "Camp No" Army Sgt Joe Hickman told the magazine. He said anyone who asked if the black site existed would be told, "No, it doesn't".

At a 7am meeting on June 10, 2006, with 50 or so soldiers and sailors, a commander said the three men had died by swallowing rags, causing them to choke to death.

According to the magazine, they went on to say the media would be told the three prisoners had committed suicide by hanging themselves in their cells, according to Scott Horton, the article's author and a lawyer who has worked on detainee issues.

Admiral Harry Harris, then commander of the base, declared the deaths "suicides" and said the men had killed themselves as a political gesture. "I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

The account, based mainly on interviews with former guards at the US prison on Cuba, suggested the US government was covering up details of what precisely happened in the hours before the deaths.

President Barack Obama has pledged to close the prison, in part because of the damage its reputation for abuses has done to America's image. But difficulties with resettling the majority of the remaining 215 prisoners overseas mean he will miss his own deadline of this Friday.

The three Guantánamo detainees who died the night of June 9, 2006 were Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, 37, of Yemen; Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, 30, of Saudi Arabia; and Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, 22, of Saudi Arabia.

In an earlier report into the deaths, the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service found that the men, who were in separate cells, had made nooses out of sheets and T-shirts but somehow fastened them to an eight-foot high mesh wall. They had also somehow bound their own hands, as well as having extra sheets to hang in front of their cell door windows.

Mr Horton claims the report was littered with holes and contradictions, such as the fact that normal Guantánamo conditions do not allow prisoners large amounts of linen.

Other guards have previously spoken or written about their shame at what they witnessed or participated in at the detention centre.

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2010

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Offline bigron

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2010, 06:05:35 am »
Published on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 by Harper's Magazine

The Guantánamo ‘Suicides': The Official Response Begins

by Scott Horton

When a cover-up is exposed, nothing is more telling than the first reactions from those who are involved. Do they maintain their stories and face potentially aggravated consequences? Or do they simply remain silent? In making this choice, they often telegraph the depth of their anxiety and concern.

Last night on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, I focused on the first responses to "The Guantánamo ‘Suicides.'" [1] Colonel Michael Bumgarner, the former commander at Camp America, had sent an email to the Associated Press, the text of which AP confirmed to me, in which he said he would have to get clearance from the Defense Department to speak, but then stated:

This blatant misrepresentation of the truth infuriates me. I don't know who Sgt. Hickman is, but he is only trying to be a spotlight ranger. He knows nothing about what transpired in Camp 1, or our medical facility. I do, I was there.

This statement merits closer inspection. The first sentence is a classic nondenial denial. It appears on the surface to deny part of the account, but in fact denies nothing. Bumgarner needs to state specifically what allegations he considers inaccurate. His failure to do so is telling.

The second statement is an attempt to frame the conflict in terms of a controversy between Sergeant Hickman and himself, which he leads into by saying he doesn't even know who Hickman is. That statement is demonstrably false. As we confirmed with Defense Department records, Bumgarner recommended Hickman for a medal (shown below) based on his cool-headed approach to defusing a prison riot on May 18, 2006. Moreover, Hickman was selected as NCO of the Quarter at Guantánamo, a fact the camp commander would certainly have known at the time. In any case, the key points in which Bumgarner figures do not rest on Hickman's accounts alone-they are corroborated by a series of additional witnesses, as well as by published accounts in which Bumgarner himself is extensively quoted.



Hickman's Army Commendation Medal certificate, signed by Baumgarner


The third statement presents Bumgarner with even more serious problems. He denies that Hickman was present or has knowledge of what transpired at Camp 1 and the detainee clinic on the night of June 9. "I was there," he says. Let's be very clear about this: Either Bumgarner lied in a formal statement to NCIS, or he lied to AP. In his formal account, Bumgarner addressed this point directly. "On the night of 09JUN06, I was not in the camp," he writes, "I had spent the evening at Admiral Harris's house." (This can be found on pp. 1059-60 of the NCIS evidence file, and can be examined here [2] [PDF, 1.1M] on page 6 of the original document.) This account matches the recollection of other witnesses cited in Admiral Harris's AR 15-6 statement, especially the statements beginning at p. 118. In all these accounts, Colonel Bumgarner does not arrive at the camp until 12:48 a.m. on the morning of June 10. The operative events of the narrative furnished by the guards occurred between 7:00 p.m. and midnight-long before Bumgarner's arrival on the scene.

The Justice Department response is also informative. It was confronted with several allegations: that the FBI had been involved in a cover-up from the first days after the deaths, launching a raid designed to intimidate witnesses from speaking openly; that the Justice Department may have made repeated misleading statements to federal judge James Robertson in furtherance of the cover-up; and that the Department claimed to have concluded its investigation into Hickman's story before contacting witnesses who would have, and did, corroborate it.

The Justice Department had no response to any of these serious allegations. Instead, in a January 18 e-mail, department spokesman Laura Sweeny claimed that two of the witnesses interviewed by the department had misremembered the names of the lawyers present at those meetings. She refused to address any of the other allegations in the article. Instead, she insisted that I note that Justice had "conducted a thorough inquiry into this matter, carefully examined the allegations, found no evidence of wrongdoing and subsequently closed the matter." And then she said, as she had when I contacted her in reporting the story, that she would not arrange an interview with any of the officials involved in the matter.

This is all classic misdirection, an attempt to make the story not about the crimes at Guantánamo but the minutes of meetings in Baltimore and Columbia. Still, the fact that the Justice Department is unwilling to say who was at these brief interviews speaks volumes. It does not deny that the interviews occurred, nor that the descriptions of the meetings are otherwise accurate, nor even that the lawyers identified were in fact involved in the investigation. It simply insists that the team conducting these interviews not be identified.

Of course, this adamant insistence on official anonymity does nothing to dispel the accusation of cover-up. Just the opposite: it suggests that the lawyers and FBI agents involved quite urgently wish not to have their names associated with it. And who could blame them?

© 2010 Harper's Magazine
Scott Horton is a Contributing Editor of Harper's Magazine [3] and lectures at Columbia Law School.  He is also a member of the board of the National Institute of Military Justice [4], the Andrei Sakharov Foundation [5], the EurasiaGroup [6] and the American Branch of the International Law Association [7].


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Offline jack_2002

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2010, 07:42:55 pm »

evidence shows camp no is a black secret extra-judicial murder site where the prisoners were transported by the military specifically to be extra-judicially murdered to wit, bound hand and foot gagged and hanged/strangled by a special designated government murder/hit team presumeably cia or hit team attached to another black ops organization and left hanging at the camp no black execution site until medical personell could verify the muslim victims were dead beyond any possibility of resussitation and then secretly transported back to the medical unit and dumped there then the code word issued for the fake preplanned script to be acted out by all the camp guards.

be advised this secret black execution site at gitmo is a test by the regime and if it proves successful secret black murder sites will be created all over the states & around the world anywhere the nwo bastards have control to empower the pigs to quietly snatch people wherever they want at will spiriting the helpless vicims off to these secret sites in the dead of night then murdering them under scientifically controlled conditions then transporting the dead bodies away to be dumped wherever needed for the faked suicide or disappearance.

unless the unconstitutional criminals running the organs of power are overthrown all americans and indeed all those living in areas under their control risk the same as these 4 innocent muslim victims.

Offline bigron

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2010, 07:25:37 am »
Media Falling Down on Gitmo ‘Suicides’

Daniel Luban, January 19, 2010

http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2010/01/19/media-falling-down-on-gitmo-suicides/

I hope that anyone who has not already done so will read Scott Horton’s important piece in Harper’s investigating the cover-up of the 2006 deaths of three Guantanamo detainees, deaths which were publicly reported as suicides. (Or, in the Strangelovian language of the base’s commander, as acts of “asymmetrical warfare against us.”) Based on the testimony of several former Guantanamo military personnel, Horton provides strong evidence suggesting that the three detainees — none of whom had been charged with any crime — may in fact have been killed while being interrogated at a secret “black site” outside the main Guantanamo base.

It is not terribly surprising that the leading apologists for the Bush-Cheney torture regime — the likes of Marc Thiessen, Thomas Joscelyn, and so on — have refused to respond to Horton’s piece. What is more surprising, however, is that the major U.S. papers have paid little attention as well. After remaining silent all day, the New York Times and Washington Post finally posted an AP wire story on the revelations this evening, but it is nowhere to be found on their main pages. The Los Angeles Times still appears to have nothing whatsoever on the story.

By contrast, the major British papers (with the exception of Rupert Murdoch’s Times) have all followed up on Horton’s piece. It is by now a depressingly familiar pattern that the British media exhibit far more interest in the abuses of the Bush/Blair years than their American counterparts. Still, one would think that a possible triple homicide of detainees in U.S. custody, and the subsequent cover-up by both the Bush and Obama administrations, would merit some U.S. news coverage — even given the almost exclusive focus on Haiti and Massachusetts at the moment.

Offline bigron

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2010, 08:01:37 am »
The crime of not "Looking Backward"

A new article casts serious doubt on the Government's claim that three Guantanamo detainees committed suicide

BY Glenn Greenwald

Jan. 19, 2010 |
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/01/19/guantanamo/index.html


(updated below)

MUST SEE VIDEO BELOW

In early December, a report from Seton Hall University cast serious doubt on the government's claims regarding the alleged simultaneous "suicides" of three Guantanamo detainees in June, 2006.  I wrote about that report here.  Yesterday, Harper's Scott Horton published an extraordinary new article casting even further doubt on the official version of events, compiling new, stomach-turning evidence (much of it from Guantanamo guards) strongly suggesting (without proving or concluding) that those detainees were tortured to death, and those acts then covered-up by making their deaths appear to be suicides.  Scott's article should be read in its entirety, though Andrew Sullivan has highlighted some of the critical revelations, including the motives of the whistle-blowing guards and the details of the torture to which these detainees were subjected.



I want to note two points from all of this:



(1) The single biggest lie in War on Terror revisionist history is that our torture was confined only to a handful of "high-value" prisoners.  New credible reports of torture continuously emerge.  That's because America implemented and maintained a systematic torture regime spread throughout our worldwide, due-process-free detention system.  There have been at least 100 deaths of detainees in American custody who died during or as the result of interrogation.  Gen. Barry McCaffrey said:  "We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A."  Gen. Antonio Taguba said after investigating the Abu Ghraib abuses and finding they were part and parcel of official policy sanctioned at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, and not the acts of a few "rogue" agents:  "there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes.  The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."



Despite all of this, our media persists in sustaining the lie that the torture controversy is about three cases of waterboarding and a few "high-value" detainees who were treated a bit harshly.  That's why Horton's story received so little attention and was almost completely ignored by right-wing commentators:  because it shatters the central myth that torture was used only in the most extreme cases -- virtual Ticking Time Bomb scenarios -- when there was simply no other choice.  Leading American media outlets, as a matter of policy, won't even use the word "torture."  This, despite the fact that the abuse was so brutal and inhumane that it led to the deaths of helpless captives -- including run-of-the-mill detainees, almost certainly ones guilty of absolutely nothing -- in numerous cases.  These three detainee deaths -- like so many other similar cases -- illustrate how extreme is the myth that has taken root in order to obscure what was really done.



(2) Incidents like this dramatically underscore what can only be called the grotesque immorality of the "Look Forward, Not Backwards" consensus which our political class -- led by the President -- has embraced.  During the Bush years, the United States government committed some of the most egregious crimes a government can commit.  They plainly violated domestic law, international law, and multiple treaties to which the U.S. has long been a party.  Despite that, not only has President Obama insisted that these crimes not be prosecuted, and not only has his Justice Department made clear that -- at most -- they will pursue a handful of low-level scapegoats, but far worse, the Obama administration has used every weapon it possesses to keep these crimes concealed, prevent any accountability for them, and even venerated them as important "state secrets," thus actively preserving the architecture of lawlessness and torture that gave rise to these crimes in the first place.



Every Obama-justifying excuse for Looking Forward, Not Backwards has been exposed as a sham (recall, for instance, the claim that we couldn't prosecute Bush war crimes because it would ruin bipartisanship and Republicans wouldn't support health care reform).   But even if those excuses had been factually accurate, it wouldn't have mattered.  There are no legitimate excuses for averting one's eyes from crimes of this magnitude and permitting them to go unexamined and unpunished.  The real reason why "Looking Forward, Not Backwards" is so attractive to our political and media elites is precisely because they don't want to face what they enabled and supported.  They want to continue to believe that it just involved the quick and necessary waterboarding of three detainees and a few slaps to a handful of the Worst of the Worst.  Only a refusal to "Look Backwards" will enable the lies they have been telling (to the world and to themselves) to be sustained.  But as Horton's story illustrates, there are real victims and genuine American criminals -- many of them -- and anyone who wants to keep that concealed and protected is, by definition, complicit in those crimes, not only the ones that were committed in the past, but similar ones that almost certainly, as a result of Not Looking Backwards, will be committed in the future.



* * * * *



Horton was on Countdown last night, and he and Keith Olbermann did a rather good job of laying out the facts, including the Obama administration's refusal to investigate any of this:

watch :

http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/countdown-harpers-scott-horton-guantanamo




UPDATE:  On his Harper's blog, Horton describes the stonewalling and non-responsive denials issuing from military authorities and the Justice Department.



Offline chris jones

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2010, 03:35:08 pm »

Once upon a time: the Republic of the United States was a beacon of light to this entire world.
It is now the beacon of death, genocide, & torture.

Can you imagine how many enemys this regime has made in the past 10 years alone. Isn't this what their plan is all along.

Perpetual war, and demise of this nation.

Offline Dig

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2010, 08:48:20 pm »
Camp Gitmo is a 10th generation Mind Control Facility

During the Inquisition, the Vatican/Church learned volumes about trauma based mind control.

During Nazi rule in Germany/Bavaria, massive numbers of mind control projects were introducing new methods involving insulin, hallucinants, dentistry, audio, video, electrical torture, fluoridation, and propaganda.

The Nazi psychiatrists and torturers were brought to the US and launched project MK Ultra under the US authority of Nelson Rockefeller.

In Korea, the US and China teamed up to incorporate East and West methods of trauma based mind control for creating assassins and sex slaves. In addition, the annexation of Japan by UK/US allowed a comprehensive understanding of Eastern modalities.

During Vietnam and Korea, radiation was introduced for experimenting as well as looping modalities and even more intense visual stimulation involving strobe effects. Also massive amounts of shock torture accentuated the effect of the mind erasing to then conduct mind implantation.

Then in the 70's to 00's, microchipping the test subjects and even more intense and efficient methods of trauma to split personalities was utilized. This included harmonics, ELF, HAARP, and microwaves. There also were the "cult" networks created by the CIA/MK Ultra. These include Scientology, People's Church (Jim Jones which then moved to Grenada was bombed and then rebuilt costing the taxpayers $400 million), Pat Robertson and other anti-christian evangelicals, Hale-Bop, Manson Family, etc. Also, in the 80's till today, the media became completely entwined with MK Ultra methods of expanding propaganda initiatives (MTV was and remains a major project)

Now at Gitmo, there is an off country facilty fully touted as a wonderful place for interrogation. Who gets interrogated for 9 years? This is a trauma based MK Ultra facilty to train future Al-CIA-duh leaders for perpetual wars.

This is incontrovertible, confirmed, and officially the only answer to the insanity called the New World Order.

All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline bigron

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2010, 04:41:41 am »
Too Terrible To Be True?

Why aren't we talking about the new accusations of murder at Gitmo?


By Dahlia Lithwick

http://uruknet.com/index.php?p=m62424&hd=&size=1&l=e

January 21, 2010

Some torture stories are just too horrible to contemplate, while others are too complicated to understand. But Scott Horton's devastating new exposé of the possible murders of three prisoners at Guantanamo in 2006 is neither: It's simply too terrible to allow to be true. Which is why it has been mostly ignored this week in the mainstream American media and paid little attention by the usual crew of torture apologists on the right. The fact that three Guantanamo prisoners—none of whom had any links to terrorism and two of whom had already been cleared for release—may have been killed there and the deaths covered up, should be front-page news. That brand-new evidence of this possible atrocity from military guards was given only the most cursory investigation by the Obama administration should warrant some kind of blowback. But changing what we allow ourselves to believe about torture would change the way we have reconciled ourselves to torture. Nobody in this country is prepared to do that. So we have opted to ignore it.

If you haven't read Horton's piece, you should. Here is Andy Worthington's summary. Following up on a study released in December by Mark Denbeaux at Seton Hall, Horton chases down yet more evidence—much of it from four camp guards—that three "suicides" alleged to have happened in a single night at Gitmo in June 2006 were not actually suicides at all. As the Seton Hall study concluded, the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service report on the incident that was issued in 2008 was quite literally beyond belief. Horton writes:

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.

The NCIS report failed to question why it took two hours for these suicides to be discovered despite the fact that guards checked on prisoners at 10-minute intervals. Horton, reporting on interviews with four members of the military intelligence unit assigned to guard Camp Delta, suggests that the men died at "Camp No" (as in, "No, it doesn't exist"), an alleged black site at Gitmo, and were then moved to the clinic. A massive cover-up followed. Official stories hastily changed from claims that the three men had stuffed rags down their own throats to the elaborate hanging plot. Rear Adm. Harry Harris, then the commander at Guantanamo, not only declared the deaths "suicides," but blamed the victims for "an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us." And every piece of paper belonging to every last prisoner in Camp America was then seized, amounting to some 1,065 pounds of material, much of it privileged attorney-client correspondence. The bodies of the three alleged suicide victims were returned home to their families, who requested independent autopsies, which then revealed "the removal of the structure that would have been the natural focus of the autopsy: the throat."

When the story first broke, Andrew Sullivan wrote: "This deserves to be the biggest story on the torture issue since Abu Ghraib—because it threatens to tear down the wall of lies and denial that have protected Americans from facing what the last administration actually did." But with the exception of a single AP story, the American media have been silent. The British papers have covered the story. The right-wing torture apologists have said virtually nothing. And save for a quote in the AP story from Army Col. Michael Bumgarner accusing Army Sgt. Joe Hickman, one of the guards who spoke to Horton, of "trying to be a spotlight ranger," there's been almost no pushback against Horton's report.

Glenn Greenwald has already pointed out that this silence is the result of two media narratives that have sold the American public on the biggest lies of the Bush torture era: First, that only a few well-deserving terrorists were tortured by only a few bad apples. And second, that the best thing to do about all this torture stuff is just to move past it.

But we are never going to move past this. Horton wrote this story because Hickman came forward and reported his concerns. As Andrew Sullivan noted, this isn't the first time being a good soldier has meant being a truthful one. For his service at the camp, Hickman was selected as Guantanamo's "NCO of the Quarter" and was given a commendation medal (a medal for which he was recommended by Bumgarner). When he returned to the United States, he was promoted to staff sergeant. When Barack Obama became president, Hickman decided he couldn't keep silent any longer. As he told Horton: "I thought that with a new administration and new ideas I could actually come forward. ... It was haunting me."

Hickman first took his concerns to Denbeaux at Seton Hall University Law School. Professor Mark Denbeaux's son Josh agreed to represent Hickman. Hickman didn't want to speak to the press, but he felt that "silence was just wrong." The important thing here is that Hickman and the other guards came forward with their suspicions of torture for the same reason Gen. Antonio Taguba and Gen. Barry McCaffrey and countless top military lawyers have spoken out early and often against torture. Why did they do so? Hint: not because they love the enemy or the spotlight. It's because people in the military understand better than any of us what it means to ask a soldier to be involved in abusing prisoners.

As Richard Schragger wrote in Slate in 2006:

Military lawyers are not only concerned about how the enemy will treat our troops. They are also concerned about how our troops will treat the enemy—and not just because that treatment might be morally offensive and/or strategically unwise. As one of my colleagues—himself a JAG officer—put it, the Geneva Conventions are so honored by military lawyers because they protect our own troops' humanity. The conventions prevent higher-ups from ordering subordinates to engage in repugnant acts, and they offer soldiers on the ground some basis for differentiating legal acts of killing and destruction from criminal acts of killing and destruction.

I think about this every time I hear someone—usually on a comment thread—claim that if he had just 15 minutes, KSM, and a lobster fork, he'd get himself a confession. We don't want that guy in the military, and frankly, neither does the military. Our soldiers object to torture not because they want to pamper terrorists but because they want to protect us from our own worst selves. The third big lie the media have perpetrated on the American public as we cheerfully debate the "ticking time bomb" scenario and the possible efficacy of torture is that our soldiers remain unaffected when asked to participate in such abuse, or to lie about it after the fact.

I have no reason to doubt the investigative work of Horton or Denbeaux's team and every reason to believe the Obama administration's investigation of Hickman's story was less than exhaustive. But above and beyond the implausible narrative constructed by NCIS and the bizarre throat autopsies on the deceased, four military guards at Guantanamo felt compelled to come forward and report their concerns about prisoner abuse, and nobody seems to think it warrants any discussion. Members of the military deserve our honor and respect. And one of the ways we can show that is by paying attention when soldiers raise questions about the honor of the military. Even if we've learned to sleep at night despite the fact we have tortured, we should spare one toss or turn for those soldiers who cannot.

Dahlia Lithwick is a Slate senior editor.

 


Offline bigron

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2010, 04:43:53 am »
Murders at Gitmo?

By Conor Friedersdorf

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article24460.htm

January 21, 2010 "Daily Beast" - -A new report alleges that the U.S. covered up the 2006 murders of three detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Conor Friedersdorf on why the GOP must reckon with the illegal, immoral acts of the Bush administration before mounting a return to power.
With their victory in Massachusetts, Republicans are eager to defeat the Democratic health-care bill and obstruct a big-government domestic agenda that they regard as creeping tyranny. But an article in Harper’s magazine reminds us that the right is far less willing to question government and champion liberty in foreign policy. In the magazine’s March issue, writer Scott Horton provides circumstantial evidence that the United States government covered up the 2006 murders of three Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The official report issued by the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service called the deaths suicides, implausibly claiming that the trio simultaneously hung themselves in separate, non-adjacent cells after binding their own hands and shoving rags down their own throats. Now four military personnel assigned to guard duty on the night in question “provide evidence that authorities initiated a coverup within hours of the prisoners’ deaths,” Mr. Horton writes, disclosing evidence “that strongly suggests that the three prisoners who died on June 9 had been transported to another location prior to their deaths.”

Why raise this story now that a new administration is running the war on terrorism? We’ve long known that under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney the U.S. government set up a secret prison system where detainees were tortured, and that numerous prisoners held in extra-legal settings died due to extreme abuse by American guards or interrogators.

This new case is nevertheless worth our attention. Beyond the fact that laws were broken and lives extinguished, the Gitmo Three may provide additional proof that the United States perpetrated extreme abuses of power in recent memory—a painful fact that we must acknowledge if we’re to prevent its recurrence.

And yet conservatives are so far content to ignore the story.

If I may address the skeptics on the right directly, it is penny wise and pound foolish to worry about creeping tyranny via government-run health care or gun control when we’re another terrorist attack away from popular support for an archipelago of secret prisons where anyone can be whisked away and tortured without any evidence against them. Look to Europe if you doubt whether government-run health care or black sites run by secret police are a more immediate threat to the liberty of innocents.

Do you think that I exaggerate?

Know that one of the Gitmo Three was arrested at age 17, held for some years without being charged, and scheduled for release at the time of his death due to the military’s conclusion that no evidence linked him to al Qaeda or the Taliban. We may never know exactly how he and his fellow detainees died: A conclusive, independent autopsy is impossible because their bodies were returned to their families with their throats missing.

But it is notable that the ongoing coverup of circumstances surrounding their deaths implicates enlisted men; naval officers; interrogators from the CIA or the Joint Special Operations Command; the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology; and civilians in the Defense Department and the Justice Department. When a country’s armed forces and civilian leadership conspire in coverups involving dead bodies, it is inevitably corrosive to the rule of law, the morale of the brave folks who risk their lives to protect us, and our standing in a world that rightly abhors deadly corruption at secret prison sites like the one now revealed to be at Gitmo. We’ll continue to suffer all those consequences whenever we use “harsh interrogation techniques” so indefensible in their particulars that government officials sooner break the law than admit their real-world consequences.

The Obama administration is to be commended for ending the torture of detainees. But President Obama is derelict in his oath to protect and defend the Constitution if he refrains from aggressively investigating cases like the Gitmo Three, and prosecuting any significant illegal acts. Equally bound by the Constitution of the United States are members of the Republican opposition. I happen to agree with them that the Democratic domestic agenda imprudently seeks to concentrate too much power in the federal government. But the GOP doesn’t deserve to control any branch of government so long as its members defend or ignore illegal, immoral acts that weakened our armed forces and disgraced our intelligence agencies the last time they held power (including years long after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks—remember that the Gitmo Three did not die until 2006).

As Megan McArdle wrote, “I don’t think it’s particularly bleeding heart to think that we shouldn’t have to fake suicides to cover up for abusing prisoners. In fact, I think that’s the stance of a hard-core believer in law and order.” It is my stance because I am anxious about concentrating too much power in the federal government, and cognizant that a complex of secret prisons where we torture is a far more perilous mile marker on the road to serfdom than anything proposed by our current elected officials, however misguided their policies.

Conor Friedersdorf, a Daily Beast columnist, also writes for The American Scene and The Atlantic Online's ideas blog.
 
 

 

 

Offline bigron

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2010, 07:05:32 am »
Gitmo “Suicides” Should Be The Final Straw For Firing McChrystal

by Jim White

http://uruknet.com/index.php?p=m62478&hd=&size=1&l=e

January 22, 2010

Stanley McChrystal’s career is characterized by torture, murder, secret prison camps and cover-ups. It should come as no surprise, then, that this week’s exposé by Scott Horton on the Guantanamo "suicides" in 2006 implicates McChrystal and another secret prison camp:

One of the most intriguing aspects of this case concerns the use of Camp No. Under George W. Bush, the CIA created an archipelago of secret detention centers that spanned the globe, and authorities at these sites deployed an array of Justice Department sanctioned torture techniques—including waterboarding, which often entails inserting cloth into the subject’s mouth—on prisoners they deemed to be involved in terrorism. The presence of a black site at Guantánamo has long been a subject of speculation among lawyers and human-rights activists, and the experience of Sergeant Hickman and other Guantánamo guards compels us to ask whether the three prisoners who died on June 9 were being interrogated by the CIA, and whether their deaths resulted from the grueling techniques the Justice Department had approved for the agency’s use—or from other tortures lacking that sanction.

Complicating these questions is the fact that Camp No might have been controlled by another authority, the Joint Special Operations Command, which Bush’s defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had hoped to transform into a Pentagon version of the CIA. Under Rumsfeld’s direction, JSOC began to take on many tasks traditionally handled by the CIA, including the housing and interrogation of prisoners at black sites around the world. The Pentagon recently acknowledged the existence of one such JSOC black site, located at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, and other suspected sites, such as Camp Nama in Baghdad, have been carefully documented by human-rights researchers.

In a Senate Armed Services Committee report on torture released last year, the sections about Guantánamo were significantly redacted. The position and circumstances of these deletions point to a significant JSOC interrogation program at the base. (It should be noted that Obama’s order last year to close other secret detention camps was narrowly worded to apply only to the CIA.)

To review, here’s a snippet from the Andrew Sullivan piece linked above on McChrystal’s history:

That last sentence suggests that McChrystal disagrees with the customary "respect for human life" demanded of the US military. McChrystal’s past is mysterious but there is little doubt that he was deeply involved in one of the worst torture outfits in Iraq, Camp "Nama", an acronym for "Nasty Ass Military Area". … Two prisoners were tortured to death in this place. It was extremely closely monitored, with records of all sorts of torture and abuse, and yet there are also extensive stories of abuse that went well outside even the torture techniques approved by Cheney and Rumsfeld. Remember also that Iraq was, even by the standards of the Bush administration, supposed to be under the Geneva Conventions. The camp’s record has been shrouded in secrecy from the beginning.

The Guantanamo "suicides" took place on the night of June 9, 2006. If Camp No was a JSOC operation, who was in charge of JSOC at that time? Stanley McChrystal. According to this biography of McChrystal published by the Council on Foreign Relations, McChrystal assumed command of JSOC in February, 2006, only four months prior to the "suicides". (h/t kgb999 for pointing out the timing of McChrystal’s involvement)

How many torture deaths and cover-ups does it take to get a General fired?



 

Offline Dig

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2010, 09:31:00 am »
Gitmo “Suicides” Should Be The Final Straw For Firing McChrystal

by Jim White

http://uruknet.com/index.php?p=m62478&hd=&size=1&l=e

January 22, 2010

Stanley McChrystal’s career is characterized by torture, murder, secret prison camps and cover-ups. It should come as no surprise, then, that this week’s exposé by Scott Horton on the Guantanamo "suicides" in 2006 implicates McChrystal and another secret prison camp:

One of the most intriguing aspects of this case concerns the use of Camp No. Under George W. Bush, the CIA created an archipelago of secret detention centers that spanned the globe, and authorities at these sites deployed an array of Justice Department sanctioned torture techniques—including waterboarding, which often entails inserting cloth into the subject’s mouth—on prisoners they deemed to be involved in terrorism. The presence of a black site at Guantánamo has long been a subject of speculation among lawyers and human-rights activists, and the experience of Sergeant Hickman and other Guantánamo guards compels us to ask whether the three prisoners who died on June 9 were being interrogated by the CIA, and whether their deaths resulted from the grueling techniques the Justice Department had approved for the agency’s use—or from other tortures lacking that sanction.

Complicating these questions is the fact that Camp No might have been controlled by another authority, the Joint Special Operations Command, which Bush’s defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had hoped to transform into a Pentagon version of the CIA. Under Rumsfeld’s direction, JSOC began to take on many tasks traditionally handled by the CIA, including the housing and interrogation of prisoners at black sites around the world. The Pentagon recently acknowledged the existence of one such JSOC black site, located at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, and other suspected sites, such as Camp Nama in Baghdad, have been carefully documented by human-rights researchers.

In a Senate Armed Services Committee report on torture released last year, the sections about Guantánamo were significantly redacted. The position and circumstances of these deletions point to a significant JSOC interrogation program at the base. (It should be noted that Obama’s order last year to close other secret detention camps was narrowly worded to apply only to the CIA.)

To review, here’s a snippet from the Andrew Sullivan piece linked above on McChrystal’s history:

That last sentence suggests that McChrystal disagrees with the customary "respect for human life" demanded of the US military. McChrystal’s past is mysterious but there is little doubt that he was deeply involved in one of the worst torture outfits in Iraq, Camp "Nama", an acronym for "Nasty Ass Military Area". … Two prisoners were tortured to death in this place. It was extremely closely monitored, with records of all sorts of torture and abuse, and yet there are also extensive stories of abuse that went well outside even the torture techniques approved by Cheney and Rumsfeld. Remember also that Iraq was, even by the standards of the Bush administration, supposed to be under the Geneva Conventions. The camp’s record has been shrouded in secrecy from the beginning.

The Guantanamo "suicides" took place on the night of June 9, 2006. If Camp No was a JSOC operation, who was in charge of JSOC at that time? Stanley McChrystal. According to this biography of McChrystal published by the Council on Foreign Relations, McChrystal assumed command of JSOC in February, 2006, only four months prior to the "suicides". (h/t kgb999 for pointing out the timing of McChrystal’s involvement)

How many torture deaths and cover-ups does it take to get a General fired?



 



The main reason McChrystal should go to jail (not just fired) is for conspiracy to commit the murder of Pat Tillman (after the fact at the least).
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline agentbluescreen

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2010, 10:11:57 am »
http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/01/camp-no.html
18 Jan 2010 12:55 pm

"Camp No"



This is the isolated part of Gitmo where paddy wagons came and went, whence screams could be heard during "aggressive questioning", and whence three corpses are believed to have emerged after the kind of treatment once reserved for totalitarian states but now indelibly part of the American way.

No, this is not a satellite of a secret Iran torture chamber; it is not a Soviet camp; it is not an isolated black site in North Korea. It is in Gitmo. And it is where America's founding principles came to die.

The corpses were delivered to their families with their necks cut out, to make it impossible to tell whether they were strangled to death in a session engineered by Cheney and Rumsfeld or whether they hanged themselves simultaneously as the cover-up insisted.

A closer-up version of the same photograph below the fold:

 

Offline Jackson Holly

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2010, 10:21:00 am »


These crooks are committing murder all over the world.

St. Augustine: “The truth is like a lion; you don't have to defend it.
Let it loose; it will defend itself."

Offline Dig

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2010, 05:09:05 pm »
These are concentration camps/death camps.

This is the final solution to the NWO's problems.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2010, 07:19:55 pm »
and this is the public one
the one they parade the media up and down in front of
the one that is supposed to prove to the world nothing wrong is going on

what about the other prisons they keep the media away from, that are called secret prisons, in Egypt, Poland, Afghanistan etc.
thats where the bad stuff goes on
like latin america

also why does the military has a base in cuba, the supposed enemy of the usa.

Offline Dig

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Re: The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2010, 08:36:50 am »
and this is the public one
the one they parade the media up and down in front of
the one that is supposed to prove to the world nothing wrong is going on

what about the other prisons they keep the media away from, that are called secret prisons, in Egypt, Poland, Afghanistan etc.
thats where the bad stuff goes on
like latin america

also why does the military has a base in cuba, the supposed enemy of the usa.

Rockefeller and the beard worked out a deal 50 years ago. Castro enslaves his people ad Rockefeller enslaves us. It is a win/win situation for the elites.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately