Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Guantanamo Suicides or Bush/GOP War Crimes?

Scott Horton has written an article in Harpers that reveals the existence of a previously unknown facility in the GOP Gitmo Gulag.  It appears that the deaths of three prisoners there, previously reported as suicides, were actually murders:

guantanamo_map_lores …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 Guantánamo 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...

...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... [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Harpers>

The story is sufficiently complex that for me to post as mush as I would like, I’d have to post the whole thing.  Instead, I posted just enough to introduce it and strongly encourage you to click the above link and read the whole thing.  Keith Olbermann and Scott Horton discussed the article on Countdown.


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I’m quite concerned that the Obama administration is actively taking part in the cover-up.  I see two possible reasons for this.

The first, and most likely, is that Obama is reluctant, per his campaign promise, to stir partisan rancor.  If so, Obama is mistaken.  The GOP stances on every issue could not be more partisan.  They have used Obama’s repeated attempts at bipartisanship against both him and the best interests of America.  Obama needs to put that behind him.

The second is that, if certain Democratic leaders were in the loop and signed off on Bush/GOP war crimes, Obama is trying to protect them.  If so, Obama is mistaken.  If there are Democrats who are complicit in war crimes, then they must also take accountability for their actions.

I’m sure we’ll be visiting this story again, as more information comes out.


BigmacInPittsburgh said...

I'm not shocked at all,killing of prisoners was prefected in this country years ago.

Jack Jodell said...

Fee, fie, fo, fum! I smell the hands of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld all over this one! The Israelis were able to successfully spirit away Adolf Eichmann for a war crimes trial in Israel in 1962. It's high time someone spirits off Cheney, Rumsfels, and Bush to The Hague for the same thing this yeat! We'll then see how they like the taste of renditioning.

Jack Jodell said...

Egad! Rumsfeld, and year, is what I meant to say!

Lisa G. said...

I read this whole story yesterday - it's quite damning.

Jerry Critter said...

If it is indeed murder, and it sure seems like it, then those accountable, republican and Democrat alike, must be held accountable.

It is another American embarrassment and these kind of activities make us less safe, not more safe.

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TomCat said...

Welcome back, Mac. While that may be true, torturing people to death is not the norm for this country.

Jack, were it in my power, I would allow their extradition in a heartbeat.

Lisa, it is indeed.

Jerry, I fully agree. The more atrocities our nation commits, the greater the incentive we give to those who would do us harm.

Welcome, Lawrence. After looking at your blog, I was happy to exchange links.

Kevin Kelley said...

I would not doubt the possibility of murder. It is for reasons such as this that Guantanamo Bay needs to be shut down and these "enemy combatants" or whatever they are called are either sentenced or set free...

This is America, land of the free, yet the Bush administration had made it okay to take away peoples human rights, just as long as they are not American...

TomCat said...

I agree, Kevin, but I think those not charged/convicted should be repatriated, not released in the US. If they had no desire to attack the US originally, Bush and the GOP have given them ample incentive to seek revenge.

RealityZone said...

You left out the very first paragraph.

"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."

MadMike said...

As a former military intelligence officer I can pretty much guarantee there was/is a cover up. I certainly don't blame the president for this. At one point GITMO was a necessary evil and I am not certain that it needs to be closed, because I am mindful of the fact that the scum who are housed there are terrorist who would not for one minute hesitate to cut my throat.

Jerry Critter said...

The plot thickens.

Anon-Paranoid said...

Sad to say but President Obama disappointed me and I left a comment on the government website to him and why.

He is now complicit in the cover up of War Crimes when he refused to investigate and prosecute clear cases of War Crimes by the previous administration.

Dick Heinrich Himmler Cheney by his own mouth and words admitted to authorizing torture a crime under U.S. laws and international laws such as the Geneva Conventions.

Because of his failure to uphold the laws of the land he is now going to go down in history as being involved in the cover up of War Crimes.

He has failed to live up too his word that he would restore the Rule of Law and the Constitution.

He has allowed a precedent to be set that any other President in the future can use to commit atrocities against not only foreigners, but American Citizens as well.

I am deeply saddened and disappointed as I saw a chance to return our country to the principles that our fore fathers set forth in him.

Now I silently weep as the United States Of America is now America The Fourth Reich.

God Bless.

RealityZone said...

ANON-Paranoid; Well said.
For some reason the Dems wish to conveniently forget about this. Ya, it is worst than setting a precedent for Presidential powers. It is part of the club rules now. [TIT FOR TAT]. There is no chance of ever prosecuting, or even having a formal investigation into the w/cheney war crimes. England is having a little success with their investigations. Den Haag is where they all belong.

the walking man said...

I want to see if the president is truly going to uphold his sworn oath to preserve and defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and DOMESTIC.

TomCat said...

RZ, I feel offended. For your future reference, three periods at the beginning of a citation, indicates that the citation does not start at the beginning of the source article. Did you think I was trying to cover it up? I recommended that everyone go read the entire article, and I later stated, "I’m quite concerned that the Obama administration is actively taking part in the cover-up." I gave two possible explanations, both of which concluded Obama is wrong. What more do you want? Are you telling me how I should format articles on my own blog?

Mike, I'm sure that what you say applies to some of the prisoners at Gitmo. However, there are others who were turned in for money or over personal grudges.

Jerry, that's a great link. Thanks.

AP, I would not go so far as to call the US the Fourth Reich, unless the Republicans regain power. The rest of what you say is correct, and Obama needs to change that.

Mark, I agree. He needs to do so.