The Latest On Those Gitmo “Suicides”

It’s a story we have long covered, even as many MSM outlets pooh-poohed the idea of accidental-homicide-through-torture. So we’re glad to be able to the recent Newsweek piece as the definitive latest word on the affair. It contains the following key paragraph: A highly placed source in the Department of Defense who deals with detainees’ … Continue reading The Latest On Those Gitmo “Suicides”

Three “Suicides” At Gitmo: The Story So Far

During the night of June 9-10, 2006, something nightmarish happened in the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Three prisoners, we were told, had committed suicide simultaneously by hanging themselves in their cells. Rear Admiral Harry Harris explained it thus: “This was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetric warfare committed against us.” A Bush administration official said the suicides — one by a man captured at 17, charged with no crime and scheduled for release — was “a good PR move”. At the time I remember thinking how off-key that sounded in response to three suicides. But then I moved on. The US Naval Criminal Investigative Service took two years to complete an inquiry which came to the same conclusion as Harris immediately after the event. There have been many suicide attempts at Gitmo and hunger strikes. And collective suicide by terrorists is not unknown. Members of the Baader Meinhof gang killed themselves in Stammheim prison in 1977. But that was accomplished by gunshots, impossible in such a tightly controlled jail as Gitmo. And the Alpha Block where their bodies were allegedly discovered is supposed to be closely monitored, with guard checks of every cell required every 10 minutes. There were five guards for 28 prisoners. And yet the NCIS report found that the bodies were not discovered for two hours. More to the point, none of the guards on duty was ever disciplined for negligence, a baffling decision after such a massive and embarrassing breach in protocol.

The Gitmo “Suicides”: The Strange Autopsies

I haven't been posting on this potentially game-changing story because the details are complex and the information overload enormous and I want to make sure I get every iota right. Stay tuned for more in the coming days. But Scott Horton's latest piece zeroes in on a very specific detail: the weird autopsies. Horton claimed that the families of the dead prisoners requested the missing necks and heart and kidneys of the deceased for a second autopsy. Rowan Scarborough at Human Events, contacted the military to debunk the story. He wrote:

I am told authoritatively that the families have not requested the neck organs.

Horton has the actual letter requesting the organs (see after the jump). So either it got lost in the mail or this is another demonstrable untruth from the government. Now Horton has asked one of the most respected autopsy pathologists inn the country to review the procedures of the autopsies as performed at Gitmo. Read the whole disturbing thing. It seems extremely clear that they violated standards and procedures that are routine for both civilian and military autopsies. For example, organs removed from bodies are always returned to the next of kin for secondary autopsies if requested. That didn't happen. From the pathologist, Dr Michael Baden:

It is not appropriate to be unresponsive to the pathologists conducting the second autopsy. If the body parts that were removed have been properly preserved, they can still be examined years later to assist in independently establishing how the death occurred.

Then this jumped out at me when I first read it. In the original autopsy, it was found that the hyoid bone of one of the deceased had been broken. The military claims this occurred accidentally during the removal of the neck for examination. It had nothing to do with what they claim were hangings. Here's what the pathologist said of that finding:

A fracture of the hyoid bone occurs more commonly in homicidal manual strangulation than in suicidal hanging. A pathologist performing the second autopsy should be able to examine the hyoid bone and larynx to independently determine if the fracture happened while the decedent was alive or inadvertently after death during autopsy removal of the larynx.

My italics. But the second autopsy was denied this option by the US military. Then the weird detail that also struck me before: why on earth did the deceased stuff rags down their throats if they wanted to commit suicide by hanging? The military's explanation was that a rag was placed over the mouth to muffle any sound or cry they might utter when hanging and that they were then "inhaled as a natural reaction to death by asphyxiation.” No, I'm not making that up. But I'm not an expert so the pathologist's analysis should be deferred to:

I am not aware of any other case in which suicide was accomplished in this way, at least not with a gag in his mouth covered by a surgical mask.

I have a feeling this story is not over.

The letter asking for the organs of the deceased is below:

The Gitmo “Suicides”

Some pushback against the usual denialism. Joe Carter writes the following:

If he had bothered to do his homework (rather than relying on his ghostwriting interns) he might have discovered that a Democratic president— Mr. Obama—is implicated in the purported “cover-up.” According to the AP story that he linked to (but obviously didn’t read), Obama’s Justice Department looked into the the claims and found them baseless. Surely Sullivan isn’t claiming that Obama is in on the cover up too?

Actually, I read thoroughly the Seton Hall report a month ago. I have followed this case very closely. And in my original post on the subject, I wrote:

And the only reason we do not know more about this is because of the criminal cover-up under the Bush administration and the enraging refusal of the Obama administration to do the right thing and open all of it to sunlight.

I have subsequently complained that then Holder DOJ is refusing to investigate. Carter should not presume that we are all as blindly partisan as he is. Carter also argues that Horton's entire story rests on one soldier. It doesn't. It rests on the testimony of

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.

It also rests on the extraordinary lacunae and non-explanations and inconsistencies in the previous Pentagon reports, as analyzed by Seton Hall University

Carter does what fundamentalists often do.