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Guantanamo Detainee Deaths: Responding to the Defense Department's Whitewash

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Guantanamo Detainee Deaths: Responding to the Defense Department's Whitewash - by Stephen Lendman

On December 7, 2009, under the direction of Professor Mark Denbeaux, Seton Hall University School of Law's Center for Policy & Research (CP&R) published its 15th GITMO report titled, "Death in Camp Delta," covering three simultaneous deaths on June 9, 2006 in the maximum security Alpha Block. The detainees were found hanged in separate cells shortly after midnight on June 10, unobserved for at least two hours, rags stuffed down their throats, despite constant surveillance by five guards responsible for 28 inmates in a lit cell block monitored by video cameras. One of them was scheduled for release in 19 days, so why would he commit suicide?

The 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 either let them die or killed them, then whitewashed the investigation to suppress it.

DOD responded, adding to the coverup, CP&R saying:

"The Center has found DOD's defense contradictory to, and inconsistent with, DOD's prior statement in its Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) report."

According to Professor Mark Denbeaux:

"Amazingly, some of DOD's statements purporting to defend the NCIS investigation actually impeach it; others are irrelevant or misdirected. The inflated number of statements supposedly supporting the NCIS Report are not as important as the statements omitted from the NCIS Report."

CP&R's 16th GITMO Report responded to DOD's thinly veiled defense titled, "DOD Contradicts DOD: An Analysis of the Response to Death in Camp Delta."

While confirming some of CP&R's criticisms, DOD also "contradict(ed) factual claims in its own investigation, raising new questions as to whether the DOD can be trusted to investigate its own conduct." The Center found:

-- DOD now says one detainee had a rag in his throat; the NCIS investigation showed all three had them;

-- DOD claims over 100 interviews were conducted during the first three days of investigation; in fact, 24 were conducted on June 10 and none the next three days; at most, investigators interviewed 45 individuals in total; in addition, NCIS investigators concluded that testimonies from all on-duty guards on the night of the incident were false, yet their statements are missing; further, most of them either refute or don't corroborate NCIS findings;

-- NCIS had a videotape record of events; DOD said nothing on it contained substantive evidence, an implausible claim as everything is recorded on it; and

-- DOD now says the lights were dimmed when detainees hanged themselves; Admiral Harry Harris said they were on.

In its December report, CP&R asked key unanswered questions, 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;

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.
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