Guantanamo Detainee Deaths - by Stephen Lendman
Under the direction of Professor Mark Denbeaux, Seton Hall University School of Law's Center for Policy & Research (CP&R) published 15 "GTMO Reports," including profiles of detainees held, allegations against them, and discrepancies in government accounts explaining reasons for reported deaths.
An earlier report analyzed unclassified government data (obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests) based on evidentiary summaries of 2004 military hearings on whether 517 detainees held at the time were "enemy combatants." Most were non-belligerents. In fact, a shocking 95% were seized randomly by bounty hunters, then sold to US forces for $5,000 per claimed Taliban and $25,000 for supposed Al Qaeda members. At least 20 were children, some as young as 13.
The latest report titled, "Death in Camp Delta," covers three simultaneous detainee deaths on June 9, 2006 in the maximum security Alpha Block. Yassar Talal Al Zahrani, Mani Shaman Turki Al Habardi Al Tabi, and Ali Abdullah Ahmed were found dead shortly after midnight on June 10.
At first, the Pentagon's said they were found hanging in their cells as part of an anti-American "asymmetrical warfare conspiracy" based on medical personnel saying a short written note on each body indicated a coordinated effort to rebel against confinement as martyrs as well as longer confirming statements in their cells. At the same time, the media was shut out and lawyers prevented from visiting clients to minimize the incident and suppress truths.
CP&R's report found "dramatic flaws in the government's investigation (and) raise(s) serious questions about the security of the Camp (and) derelictions of duty by officials of multiple defense and intelligence agencies" who let them die, more likely killed them, then whitewashed the investigation to suppress it.
According to official autopsies, the men were hanging unobserved for at least two hours, despite constant surveillance by five guards responsible for 28 inmates in a lit cell block monitored by video cameras. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) require each detainee be observed at least once every 10 minutes. They weren't, yet no guards were disciplined in spite of evidence of "a camp in total disarray."
In August 2008, over two years later, investigators from the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) released "a heavily redacted report (concluding) that the detainees had hanged themselves in their cells and that (another) detainee, while walking the corridors that night had announced, 'tonight's the night.' "
Still key questions are unanswered, including:
-- the time and exact means of death;
-- how the dead men braided a noose using torn up sheets and/or clothing unobserved and made mannequins of themselves to look like asleep bodies in bed;
-- hung sheets to obstruct viewing into their cells;
-- stuffed rags down their throats to choke;
-- tied their hands and feet together;
-- hung the noose from the metal mesh of the cell wall or ceiling;
-- climbed on a sink, placed the noose around their necks, released their weight, and were strangled; and