Monday, May 26, 2014

More on the deaths of the three men at Guantanamo in 2006....

Thisreport details the failure of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to address the dramatic deficiencies in the findings issued by the Navy Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) in the wake of the deaths on June 9, 2006 of three detainees held at the detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The NCIS report, issued two years after the deaths of the detainees, essentially rubber-stamped statements made by camp officials about the manner and cause of the deaths of the three detainees before any investigation was conducted, and before any such conclusions could be known. It concealed repeated evidence of tampering with the crime scene, the fact that two of the men had been dead for hours before they were “discovered,” and the fact that the third lived for several hours afterwards, dying while ostensibly under medical care.

Yet, despite new discoveries and two Congressional requests – one made in October, 2009 by Representative William Delahunt (D-Mass.) and a second, in January, 2010 by Representative Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) – the DOJ failed to re-investigate the circumstances of the deaths.

The NCIS report relies on evidence disputed by documents that the Center for Policy & Research Fellows easily obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests. They include official statements by guards who were on duty the night of the deaths, camp transportation records and findings from the autopsies of the three detainees. Among the Center report’s findings:

1. The NCIS secretly ratified the GTMO Commander’s conclusion that the cause of the detainees’ deaths was suicide on June 20, 2006, 11 days after the bodies were discovered. Yet, for inexplicable reasons, the NCIS did not publicly issue its report until 26 months after the deaths, on August 22, 2008.

2. The senior medical officer who declared two of the three detainees dead was never interviewed by the NCIS. In a narrative he prepared on his own, he asserted that the detainees died by means other than suicide by hanging.

3. A guard on the cell block in which the detainees reportedly hung themselves gave a statement to NCIS noting that there were no materials available in the detainees’ cells with which to hang themselves in the manner as rumored prior to the NCIS report’s adoption of that “fact.” That statement is not addressed in the report.

4. Contrary to the NCIS report, a medical escort described how one of the three detainees was actually found alive and, on the ride to the Naval Hospital, was discovered to have a cord still tied tightly around his neck – it had not been removed or loosened when he was ostensibly cut down. In addition, the detainee still showed vital signs though he had allegedly been hanging for two hours before he was discovered. No steps were taken to revive the detainee. The escort also observed a Corpsman tie onto the detainee’s wrists the fabric that the detainees had allegedly tied onto their own wrists as they prepared to hang themselves.

5. With regard to the DOJ’s response to a request for an investigation, the letter to Representative Eshoo was signed by Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich, sent four months after her request was submitted. He has since claimed he simply signed the letter with no knowledge of the investigation although he was one of those in the copied in a lengthy e-mail thread regarding Representative Delahunt’s earlier inquiry, the subject line for which was, “Heads-up from Rep Delahunt re: GTMO suicide allegations.”