Guantanamo ‘Suicides’

"Camp No," Guantanamo BayIn 2006 the U.S. government announced that three prisoners at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay had committed suicide. The government rejected calls for an outside probe into the causes of death.

Now, nearly four years later, evidence is mounting that the three prisoners did not commit suicide, but were murdered during torture sessions. Four Guantanamo guards, including a sergeant of the guard the night of deaths, Joseph Hickman, have come forward with a story that contradicts the official NCIS report.

You should read the entire Scott Horton article, but here are some of the key bits:

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. … The guards’ accounts also reveal the existence of a previously unreported black site at Guantánamo where the deaths, or at least the events that led directly to the deaths, most likely occurred.

[…] The compound was not visible from the main road, and the access road was chained off … 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] 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.

[…] 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.

It’s likely that the three men died while being tortured in a similar fashion to Shaker Aamer, another Guantanamo prisoner:

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.

With some luck, this newest revelation will create the outcry necessary to force our government to confront the horrors of the recent past. Like I’ve said before, Bush, Cheney and their willing underlings should be held accountable for the torture and murder or prisoners in U.S. custody. Letting known abuses go unpunished is an invitation for others to commit these monstrous crimes again.

Quote from the Gulag Archipelago

One Comment

  1. Ian

    But we were safe right? No one was trying to attack us without getting caught. I mean, no terrorist attacks ever happened under Bush, but they have under Obama. Torture must have been working.