Murders at Guantánamo: Scott Horton and Andy Worthington talk to Jeff Farias

30.1.10

Just over two hours into progressive radio host Jeff Farias’ Thursday show (available here), I joined Jeff to discuss Scott Horton’s extraordinary article for Harper’s Magazine (which I discussed here), in which, through interviews with four members of the US military who were serving at Guantánamo in June 2006, Scott established a viable and chilling alternative to the authorities’ prevailing story about the deaths: that they were coordinated suicides, presented at the time as an act of “asymmetrical warfare.”

While waiting for Scott (whose phone had inexplicably cut out as the interview was supposed to begin), I explained the outline of the story, which focuses on the testimony of Army Staff Sgt. Joe Hickman and three other members of the US military, who have presented a coherent explanation for how the men were, in fact, taken to a secret facility outside the main perimeter fence of Guantánamo on the evening of June 9, 2006, where they died — either accidentally, as a result of torture that went too far, or because they were murdered. According to this account, the corpses were then returned to Camp Delta, where the triple suicide story was subsequently concocted.

Once Scott joined in, he provided further details, and we also discussed how disappointing it is that the story has been almost completely ignored in the mainstream media in America. I also talked about the testimony of the British resident Shaker Aamer, who told his attorneys that he was brutally tortured on the same evening. This seems to add another explanation for why he has not been freed, despite being cleared for release in 2007, because he knows too much about what has happened in Guantánamo.

I also had the opportunity to discuss the implications that Scott’s story has for two further deaths at Guantánamo, which were also described as suicides: the death of Abdul Rahman al-Amri in May 2007, and, last June (on President Obama’s watch), the death of Muhammad Salih. At the time, doubts were expressed about Salih’s death, because he had been a spirited opponent of the regime at Guantánamo, who had been inexplicably moved from the general population several months before his death.

For those who want to know more, please read Scott’s article, my recap on Scott’s article, my archive on the deaths at Guantánamo, and the Seton Hall Law School’s detailed analysis of the holes in the official investigation of the deaths in June 2006 (PDF).

There are many other important aspects of the story that need to be examined to grasp the whole picture — not least that all five men were long-term hunger strikers (who may, therefore, have made powerful enemies somewhere within the prison’s command structure), that two of the men who died in June 2006 had been cleared for release before their deaths, and that at least one of these men had been informed of his release, and was happy about it.

Last night, I reread the Seton Hall report, after discovering a few dissenting voices arguing that the suicide narrative is sound. Nothing that I read confirmed that this was the case. In fact, the Seton Hall report reveals very clearly how written statements were not taken from witnesses at the time (as they should have been), but were, instead, requested and then suddenly, and inexplicably abandoned, that no attempt was made to find out exactly who was on duty on the evening, and to take statements from them, and that there are huge discrepancies between the various accounts that were provided in the days and weeks following the deaths.

If you find any of this disturbing, please help to keep this story alive. The mainstream media has turned its back on it — as the Justice Department did, in an unconvincing manner — but that’s no reason for us not to keep this story alive on the web.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

2 Responses

  1. joni says...

    Andy

    I have posted on this topic on my blog, and I am staggered by the amount of indifference that people show towards this. The abuses that were (in my opinion) condoned by the previous administration have set us all back. War is bad, war is nasty – but we need to have the rules established upheld.

    Please keep plugging away, I know I will.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Joni. I’m glad to hear that you’re keeping up the pressure. There’s more on the story from Scott here, via a marine biologist who visited Guantanamo in 2004:
    http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/01/hbc-90006440

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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