In June 2006, three terror suspect detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay died in custody. Initially, military officials ruled that their deaths were the result of suicide and described them as a “good PR move to draw attention,” a “tactic to further the jihadi cause,” and “acts of war.” Harper’s Scott Horton reports that a new study prepared by Seton Hall law school faculty and students has found “serious and unresolved contradictions” within the military’s subsequent (and heavily redacted) report on the detainee deaths:
[The report] challenges the Pentagon’s claims. It notes serious and unresolved contradictions within a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) report — which was publicly released only in fragmentary form, two years after the fact — and declares the military’s internal investigation an obvious cover-up. The only question is: of what? […]
The study also notes that there has never been any explanation of how the three bodies could have hung in the cells, undiscovered, for at least two hours, when the cells were supposed to be under constant supervision by roving guards and video cameras.
Disturbingly, these facts were collected within the NCIS report — but without discussion or any effort to make conclusions based on them. [… The study] concluded that the three prisoners committed suicide as part of a “conspiracy.” But, according to the study: “The investigations… fail to present any evidence of a conspiracy. In fact, all other evidence is inconsistent with the conclusion that the detainees conspired.”
“[T]here are two possibilities here,” study director and Seton Hall Law Professor Mark Denbeaux said. “Either the investigation is a cover-up of gross dereliction of duty, or it is a cover-up of something far more chilling. More than three years later we do not know what really happened.” Human Rights Watch is calling on the military to release its report unredacted.