The 2006 deaths of three detainees at Guantanamo Bay, initially
described as suicides, may actually have been murders at the hands of
their guards, according to Scott Horton's new cover story
in Harper's magazine. Horton reports at length and in harrowing detail
at the brutal treatment of the three men, the extremely bizarre
circumstances of their deaths, and why suicide was so unlikely. Supported by extensive research and unsolicited statements
from several Gitmo officials, Horton describes an alleged military cover-up. Here is an excerpt:
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. [...]
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.
The story includes many revelations. Read the whole thing here
or read key excerpts here
. Reactions are sure to come at a slow boil for some days, but these are the first.
- Who They Were Matthew Yglesias surveys the three detainees. "These were the kind of detainees who'd been in prison for years, but
none of them had been charged with any crimes. Instead, they all found
themselves in 'alpha block' because they weren't model detainees--they'd
engaged in hunger strikes and other acts of protests. Their deaths were
ruled suicides, and Rear Admiral Harry Harris proclaimed the suicides
acts not of desperation but part of 'asymmetrical warfare waged against
us.'" But if Horton's report is correct, they weren't suicides at all.
- Secret CIA Black Site? Spencer Ackerman thinks this could be the long-rumored site. "Four former GTMO guards spoke out to Horton about what they believe
was a black site -- an undisclosed detention facility -- at the base they
termed 'Camp No.' It's long been believed, and even loosely reported,
that the CIA operated a short-lived separate prison at GTMO. Unsure
whether Camp No was that facility, but the guards who spoke with Horton
say that "one theory" amongst the guards is that its wardens were CIA."
- Full Investigation Into Bush Admin Must Be Opened The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan calls this
just the latest addition to "some of the worst crimes committed by a
president and vice-president of the United States in history." He
laments "the criminal cover-up under the Bush administration and the
refusal of the Obama administration to do the right thing and open all
of it to sunlight." He writes, "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. [...] This case deserves a thorough and complete and
exhaustive inquiry and investigation," including Bush and Cheney.
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or send an email to the author at
mfisher at theatlantic dot com.
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