“Suicides” at Guantanamo Look Like Murders

Scott Horton has a recent article in Harper’s about a possible murder cover-up at Guantanamo Bay –  another in a long list of reasons to reinstate American-style constitutional justice for those under American jurisdiction.

Late on the evening of June 9 [2006], 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…

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…

According to the NCIS documents, 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…

I remember reading about Admiral Harris’s comments and finding them horribly offensive. The idea of these men, held for years without charges, finally killing themselves in what looked like sheer desperation, and then having even this be construed as an act of aggression seemed at the time like the height of calculated cynicism. I guess I underestimated cynicism.

Over the past few decades there has been a very vocal lobby on behalf of those who are victims of crimes and their families. But there is very little outcry over the kidnapping, illegal imprisonment, assault, torture, and even murder of those held at Guantanamo, and little call for justice for them or their families.  It says something very ugly about this country.

Read the whole article here.

~ by lolarusa on February 3, 2010.

One Response to ““Suicides” at Guantanamo Look Like Murders”

  1. Thanks for highlighting and linking this story.

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