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Death at Gitmo

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Death at Gitmo"

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On June 9, 2006 three detainees at Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay died. Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, from Yemen; Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, from Saudi Arabia; and Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, also from Saudi Arabia. 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.”

Scott Horton in Harpers says it’s not so:

This is the official story, adopted by NCIS and Guantánamo command and reiterated by the Justice Department in formal pleadings, by the Defense Department in briefings and press releases, and by the State Department. 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.

And here I was, unaware that NCIS was even a real agency and not just a TV show conceit. Read the whole thing.

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