Monday, December 7, 2009

Seton Hall report on three of the deaths at Gitmo

Click here for the comprehensive report.
Click here for Scott Horton's interview of Prof. Denbeaux
For the cliffnotes version I am pasting this in from the press release (the bottom line is that there are still many unanswered questions):

The three detainees were each reported to have been found hanging in his separate cell shortly after midnight on June 10, 2006. According to the government’s own autopsies, each detainee had been hanging unobserved for a minimum of two hours. The deaths went unnoticed despite the constant supervision of five guards who were responsible for only 28 inmates in a lit cell block monitored by video cameras. According to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), each detainee should have been observed a minimum of once every 10 minutes by the guards. Despite clear violations of the SOP, no guards were ever disciplined.


Buried in the investigation are details of a camp in total disarray. According to Professor Mark Denbeaux, Director of the Center for Policy & Research, the investigation shows “guards not on duty, detainees hanging dead in their cells for hours and guards leaving their posts to eat the detainees’ leftover food.” During initial investigation interviews immediately following the deaths, those guards on duty were warned that they were suspected of giving false statements and were even read their Miranda rights. These guards were also ordered to not write out sworn statements, even though SOPs demanded they should.


Professor Denbeaux commented, “An investigation was promised. The promised investigation was a cover up. Worse still, given the gross inadequacy of the investigation the more compelling questions are: Who knew of the cover up? Who approved of the cover up, and why? The government’s investigation is slipshod, and its conclusion leaves the most important questions about this tragedy unanswered.”

Taking the military investigation’s findings as truthful and complete, in order to have committed suicide by hanging, the detainees had to:

  1. Braid a noose by tearing up their sheets and/or clothing
  2. Make mannequins of themselves so it would appear to the guards they were asleep in their cells
  3. Hang sheets to block the view into the cells, in violation of SOPs
  4. Stuff rags down their own throats
  5. Tie their own feet together
  6. Tie their own hands together
  7. Hang the noose from the metal mesh of the cell wall and/or ceiling
  8. Climb up on to the sink, put the noose around their necks and release their weight, resulting in death by strangulation
  9. Hang dead for at least two hours completely unnoticed by guards

Seton Hall Law student, co-author of Death in Camp Delta, and former Sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division, Paul W. Taylor added: “We have three dead bodies and no explanation. How is it possible that all three detainees had shoved rags so far down their own throats that medical personnel could not remove them? One of the dead detainees was scheduled for release from Guantanamo Bay in 19 days. Instead he died in custody.”

The American public and the families of the dead deserve to know the truth.”