Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Thursday, May 31, 2007

  An apparent human commits suicide at Guantanamo

The US military announced that an apparent human held at Guantanamo prison has committed suicide.

They tried to save his life but he was pronounced dead," said Mario Alvarez, a Miami-based spokesman for the [US Southern] Command.

The death occurred only yesterday, so understandably the military is still trying to learn the full details about the incident on that remote island.

A spokesman for detention operations, Navy Cmdr. Rick Haupt, declined to comment, referring questions to the Miami-based Southern Command...

As more information has become available, the military has been exceedingly forthcoming with it.

Military spokesmen at the Pentagon and at Guantanamo referred all inquiries to Southcom. A Southcom spokesman said last night that he could not elaborate on details of yesterday's death.

The Southern Command has confirmed already, however, that the deceased was found in a cell. This caused immediate speculation among "journalists" and assorted "pundits" that he was either a human or, less likely, a mastiff. What has gone unremarked by "newsmen" are the extraordinary lengths of care that the Guantanamo guards have gone to with the now lifeless body:

The remains of the deceased detainee are being treated with the utmost respect. A cultural advisor is assisting the Joint Task Force to ensure that the remains are handled in a culturally sensitive and religiously appropriate manner.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has initiated an investigation of the incident to determine the circumstances surrounding the death.

This level of tenderness suggests that the corpse is human, rather than a dog or, less likely, a bear.

Although the NCIS report has not even been submitted yet, that has not prevented the "media" from promoting fruitless speculation. For example, "journalists" have rushed to suggest a parallel to other suicide attempts by human prisoners at Guantanamo.

As of last year, there had been more than 40 suicide attempts by about 25 detainees, including some who had tried to overdose on hoarded drugs and one who repeatedly tried to die by hanging and slashing himself.

It was little more than a week ago that the "Associated Press" was spreading the scandalous news that another prisoner had released a letter threatening suicide.

A detainee at Guantanamo Bay who has repeatedly attempted suicide warned in a letter released Sunday that he still hoped to kill himself out of despair over his confinement and conditions at the U.S. military prison in Cuba.

Juma Mohammed Al-Dossary said he would prefer death than his open-ended detention at Guantanamo, where he complains that he and other detainees have been mistreated by the U.S. military.

Now certain American lawyers, without any sense of decency or respect, have exploited the present tragedy to try to micromanage the prison, distant though it is from America's shores:

Anant Raut, of Washington, D.C., who represents five captives at Guantánamo in federal courts for several years, called for a reevaluation of conditions at the base, where most captives live in single cells.

He said "as a simple matter of human decency" the United States should abandon its policy of indefinite detention without charge of the vast majority.

Of the 380 or so Muslim captives there, only three have been charged.

"If we're not going to charge them with anything, send them home," said Raut. "Don't lock them in a hole and take away their hope."

In fact, some particularly meddlesome lawyers have gone so far as to actually blame the military for the suicide, which on the face of it the guards did everything possible to prevent.

[Center for Constitutional Rights] staff attorney Wells Dixon blamed conditions and said the unidentified man was likely moved by despair.

"In the last year, the conditions at Guantánamo have become even more bleak: the military has increasingly held people in solitary confinement and continued to refuse to allow independent psychological evaluations," said Dixon. "The United States government is responsible for this man's death and must be held accountable."

Dixon also blamed the U.S. courts system and Congress, which last year passed a law stripping Guantánamo captives of the right to sue for their freedom through classic habeas corpus petitions in U.S. District Court...

''By refusing to hear the men's cases or exercise any oversight of their conditions, the judiciary contributed further to the desperation of the detainees,'' said Dixon, "and Congress, in failing to restore the fundamental right of habeas corpus, dealt the final blow."

This lawyer in particular is notorious among top military leaders for his frequent scurrilous remarks:

Prisoners in Camp 5, which is similar to the highest-security U.S. prisons, are kept in individual, solid-wall cells and allowed outside for only two hours a day of recreation in an enclosed area.

Wells Dixon, a defense attorney who met with detainees at Camp 5 last month, said many showed signs of desperation.

"I can assure you that it is hell on earth," Dixon said. "You can see the despair on the faces of detainees. It’s transparent."

And precisely because the military speedily declared the corpse to be Saudi Arabian, it was beset immediately by further lawyers.

Lawyer Julia Tarver Mason, whose firm represents eight Saudi detainees at Guantanamo, said she has tried so far without success to learn from the government if the apparent suicide was by one of her clients

Notwithstanding that, "journalists" did not hesitate to identify the corpse not merely as human, but even to attach a name and number to it.

Abdul Rahman Ma Ath Thafir al Amri, 34, was found dead about 1 p.m. Wednesday in his cell at the remote detention center at the U.S. Navy base in Southeast Cuba.

Two separate sources with knowledge of the case who spoke to The Miami Herald on condition of anonymity identified the dead man as Amri, and also gave his internment serial number as 199...

A check of military documents and court records indicates that -- like the three Arab men who committed suicide in simultaneous hangings a year ago -- Amri was part of the detainee population who had never met with an American attorney across about five years in U.S. detention.

As the latter statement demonstrates beyond all reasonable doubt, those two anonymous sources must surely be lawyers who are resentful because they've been sidelined by the judicial processes at Guantanamo. You would have thought that their bias in the matter was transparent, even to a "journalist". Yet the government of Saudi Arabia now feels compelled to speculate that the corpse was indeed once a Saudi citizen, even in the total absence of evidence.

If authorities are able to confirm in the end that the corpse was human and a terrorist, then his suicide will prove to be another provocative incident in the asymmetric warfare that those prisoners have been waging for the last year against the US Southern Command.

Rear Adm Harry Harris, the camp commander, said: "They have no regard for human life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us."

crossposted from Unbossed

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