Murders at Guantánamo: Scott Horton of Harper’s Exposes the Truth about the 2006 “Suicides”


Harper's Magazine, March 2010It’s hard to know where to begin with this profoundly important story by Scott Horton, for next month’s Harper’s Magazine (available on the web here), but let’s try this: The three “suicides” at Guantánamo in June 2006 were not suicides at all. The men in question were killed during interrogations in a secretive block in Guantánamo, conducted by an unknown agency, and the murders were then disguised to look like suicides. Everyone at Guantánamo knew about it. Everyone covered it up. Everyone is still covering it up.

Establishing a case for murder — and the disclosure of a secret prison at Guantánamo

The key to the discovery of the murder of the three men — 37-year old Salah Ahmed al-Salami, a Yemeni, 30-year old Mani Shaman al-Utaybi, a Saudi, and 22-year old Yasser Talal al-Zahrani (photo, below), a Saudi who was just 17 when he was captured — is Army Staff Sgt. Joe Hickman, a former Marine who reenlisted in the Army National Guard after the 9/11 attacks, and was deployed to Guantánamo in March 2006, with his friend, Specialist Tony Davila. On arrival, Davila was briefed about the existence of “an unnamed and officially unacknowledged compound,” outside the perimeter fence of the main prison, and explained that one theory about it was that “it was being used by some of the non-uniformed government personnel who frequently showed up in the camps and were widely thought to be CIA agents.”

Yasser Talal al-ZahraniHickman and Davila became fascinated by the compound — known to the soldiers as “Camp No” (as in, “No, it doesn’t exist”) — and Hickman was on duty in a tower on the prison’s perimeter on the night the three men died, when he noticed that “a white van, dubbed the ‘paddy wagon,’ that Navy guards used to transport heavily manacled prisoners, one at a time, into and out of Camp Delta, [which] had no rear windows and contained a dog cage large enough to hold a single prisoner,” had called three times at Camp 1, where the men were held, and had then taken them out to “Camp No.” All three were in “Camp No” by 8 pm.

At 11.30, the van returned, apparently dropping something off at the clinic, and within half an hour the whole prison “lit up.” As Horton explains:

Hickman headed to the clinic, which appeared to be the center of activity, to learn the reason for the commotion. He asked a distraught medical corpsman what had happened. She said three dead prisoners had been delivered to the clinic. Hickman recalled her saying that they had died because they had rags stuffed down their throats, and that one of them was severely bruised. Davila told me he spoke to Navy guards who said the men had died as the result of having rags stuffed down their throats.

As Horton also explains:

The presence of a black site at Guantánamo has long been a subject of speculation among lawyers and human-rights activists, and the experience of Sergeant Hickman and other Guantánamo guards compels us to ask whether the three prisoners who died on June 9 were being interrogated by the CIA, and whether their deaths resulted from the grueling techniques the Justice Department had approved for the agency’s use — or from other tortures lacking that sanction.

Complicating these questions is the fact that Camp No might have been controlled by another authority, the Joint Special Operations Command, which Bush’s defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had hoped to transform into a Pentagon version of the CIA. Under Rumsfeld’s direction, JSOC began to take on many tasks traditionally handled by the CIA, including the housing and interrogation of prisoners at black sites around the world.

The construction of the “suicide” narrative, and the widespread cover-up

This is disturbing enough, of course, and should lead to robust calls for an independent inquiry, but the problem may be that almost every branch of the government appears to be implicated in the cover-up that followed the deaths.

As Horton describes it, an official “suicide” narrative was soon established, and widely accepted by the media, if not by former prisoners and the dead men’s families. With extraordinary cynicism, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, the commander at Guantánamo, not only declared the deaths “suicides,” but added, “I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.” What was not mentioned were the rags stuffed into the prisoners’ mouths, even though this knowledge was widespread throughout the prison. Horton adds that when Col. Mike Bumgarner, the warden at Guantánamo, held a meeting the following morning, “the news had circulated through Camp America that three prisoners had committed suicide by swallowing rags.”

He also states:

According to independent interviews with soldiers who witnessed the speech, Bumgarner told his audience that “you all know” three prisoners in the Alpha Block at Camp 1 committed suicide during the night by swallowing rags, causing them to choke to death … But then Bumgarner told those assembled that the media would report something different. It would report that the three prisoners had committed suicide by hanging themselves in their cells. It was important, he said, that servicemen make no comments or suggestions that in any way undermined the official report. He reminded the soldiers and sailors that their phone and email communications were being monitored.

Despite being “on-message,” Bumgarner let slip to two visiting reporters from a US provincial newspaper — the only ones who were not immediately hustled off the base — that each of the men who had died “had a ball of cloth in their mouth either for choking or muffling their voices.” As punishment for straying off the script, Bumgarner was soon suspended, and had his office searched by the FBI.

Just as cynical were the authorities’ attempts to silence the prisoners and their attorneys. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), which was assigned to investigate the deaths, confiscated every single piece of paper in the possession of the prisoners, and, a few weeks later, “sought an after-the-fact justification.” As Horton explains:

The Justice Department — bolstered by sworn statements from Admiral Harris and from Carol Kisthardt, the special agent in charge of the NCIS investigation — claimed in court that the seizure was appropriate because there had been a conspiracy among the prisoners to commit suicide. [The] Justice [Department] further claimed that investigators had found suicide notes and argued that the attorney-client materials were being used to pass communications among the prisoners.

It is now apparent that the authorities were desperate to ensure that no word of the events of June 9 was disclosed from prisoners to their attorneys. As David Remes, the attorney for 16 Yemenis, explained, the effect of the seizure “sent an unmistakable message to the prisoners that they could not expect their communications with their lawyers to remain confidential,” but as part of its mission to blame attorneys for the deaths, the authorities went so far as to claim that Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the legal action charity Reprieve, had persuaded another prisoner, the British resident Shaker Aamer, to call for the deaths from his cell. Speaking to the BBC’s Newsnight in October 2006, Zachary Katznelson, an attorney at Reprieve, explained that he was told by one of his clients in Guantánamo in August 2006 that interrogators were trying to blame Stafford Smith, saying that “it was Clive’s idea, Clive’s brainchild, that people had to commit suicide to bring attention to the base and to then force the government to close it.”

As Horton reveals, far from being the mastermind of a triple suicide, Shaker Aamer was himself beaten severely on the night of the deaths. As I have explained in previous articles, Aamer, an eloquent, charismatic man, who stood up relentlessly for the prisoners’ rights, was regarded as a leader within Guantánamo by both the prisoners and the prison authorities. Held in solitary confinement after the suppression of a short-lived Prisoners’ Council, convened in the summer of 2005, for which he was the Secretary, he was, nevertheless beaten severely for two and a half hours on the evening of June 9, around the same time that the three other men were in “Camp No.”

As Horton also notes:

The United Kingdom has pressed aggressively for the return of British subjects and persons of interest. Every individual requested by the British has been turned over, with one exception: Shaker Aamer. In denying this request, US authorities have cited unelaborated “security” concerns. There is no suggestion that the Americans intend to charge him before a military commission, or in a federal criminal court, and, indeed, they have no meaningful evidence linking him to any crime. American authorities may be concerned that Aamer, if released, could provide evidence against them in criminal investigations. This evidence would include what he experienced on June 9, 2006 …

Salah Ahmed al-Salami, one of the three prisoners who died at Guantanamo on June 9, 2006In the years following the deaths in June 2006, every official response has been a whitewash. The NCIS reluctantly produced a report in August 2008, accompanied by a brief and unenlightening statement, which I discussed here, and in December 2009 the Seton Hall Law School produced a devastating analysis of the flawed report, which, as Scott Horton explains, “made clear why the Pentagon had been unwilling to make its conclusions public. The official story of the prisoners’ deaths was full of unacknowledged contradictions, and the centerpiece of the report — a reconstruction of the events — was simply unbelievable.”

As for the accounts of Sgt. Hickman and three other men (including Specialist Davila), Horton explains that they offered their accounts willingly and were not approached to do so. The trigger was Hickman, whose tour of duty ended in March 2007. As Horton describes it, however, “he could not forget what he had seen at Guantánamo. When Barack Obama became president, Hickman decided to act. ‘I thought that with a new administration and new ideas I could actually come forward,’ he said. ‘It was haunting me.’”

The cover-up continues

Hickman approached Mark Denbeaux of Seton Hall, and his son Josh (also a lawyer), and told his story, followed by the other three men. However, although the Denbeauxs approached the Justice Department, and had a meeting in February last year with Rita Glavin, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, John Morton, soon to be an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, and Steven Fagell, counselor to the head of the Criminal Division, little came of it. After hearing the whole sordid story, the officials thanked the Denbeauxs for “not speaking to reporters first and for ‘doing it the right way,’” and, two days later, Mark Denbeaux was called by Teresa McHenry, the head of the Criminal Division’s Domestic Security Section, who told him that she was starting an investigation and wanted to meet directly with Hickman.

Hickman met McHenry, and gave her the names and contact details of corroborating witnesses, but then the trail went cold. In April, “an FBI agent called to say she did not have the list of contacts” and “asked if this document could be provided again,” and soon after, Steven Fagell and two FBI agents interviewed Davila, who had left the Army, and asked him if he would travel to Guantánamo to identify the locations of various sites. “It seemed like they were interested,” Davila told Horton. “Then I never heard from them again.”

In late October, as Mark Denbeaux was preparing to unveil the Seton Hall report, there was brief communication with McHenry again, but on November 2, she called to say that the investigation was being closed:

“It was a strange conversation,” Denbeaux recalled. McHenry explained that “the gist of Sergeant Hickman’s information could not be confirmed.” But when Denbeaux asked what that “gist” actually was, McHenry declined to say. She just reiterated that Hickman’s conclusions “appeared” to be unsupported. Denbeaux asked what conclusions exactly were unsupported. McHenry refused to say.

Horton notes correctly that “the Justice Department has plenty of its own secrets to protect,” because it “would seem to have been involved in the cover-up from the first days, when FBI agents stormed Colonel Bumgarner’s quarters,” which was “unusual.” He also explains that, when the Justice Department sought court approval for the NCIS seizure of all the prisoners’ letters:

US District Court Judge James Robertson gave the Justice Department a sympathetic hearing, and he ruled in its favor, but he also noted a curious aspect of the government’s presentation: its “citations supporting the fact of the suicides” were all drawn from media accounts. Why had the Justice Department lawyers who argued the case gone to such lengths to avoid making any statement under oath about the suicides? Did they do so in order to deceive the court? If so, they could face disciplinary proceedings or disbarment.

In addition, Horton notes the role played by lawyers in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, who, of course, “had been deeply involved in the process of approving and setting the conditions for the use of torture techniques, issuing a long series of memoranda [widely known as the ‘torture memos’] that CIA agents and others could use to defend themselves against any subsequent criminal prosecution.” Pointing a finger at Teresa McHenry, he explains that, “As a former war-crimes prosecutor, McHenry knows full well that government officials who attempt to cover up crimes perpetrated against prisoners in wartime face prosecution under the doctrine of command responsibility,” and quotes Rear Admiral John Hutson, the former judge advocate general of the Navy, who told him:

Filing false reports and making false statements is bad enough, but if a homicide occurs and officials up the chain of command attempt to cover it up, they face serious criminal liability. They may even be viewed as accessories after the fact in the original crime.

In conclusion, Horton suggests that everyone charged with accounting for what happened on June 9, 2006 — the prison command, the civilian and military investigative agencies, the Justice Department, and Attorney General Eric Holder — “face a choice between the rule of law and the expedience of political silence,” and, to date, have chosen the latter.

Muhammad Salih, photographed after his deathIn passing, he mentions that the death of another prisoner in June last year — a 31-year old Yemeni named Muhammad Salih — also raises disturbing questions (as was reported by former prisoner Binyam Mohamed in an op-ed for the Miami Herald), and to this he could have added that the death of another Saudi, Abdul Rahman al-Amri, on May 30, 2007, also remains suspicious.

I urge you to read the whole report, as this précis has been little more than a way for me to try and grasp the main points presented in the article, which contains much more detailed and disturbing information, including shocking information about the autopsy (and information about the torture to which the men were clearly subjected), a touching meeting with Yasser al-Zahrani’s father, General Talal al-Zahrani, and a detailed reiteration of some other important facts — that none of the three men killed in June 2006 had any connection to terrorism, and that two had been cleared for release, but had not been told.

Despite studying Guantánamo on a full-time basis for nearly four years, this is one of the most chilling accounts of the prison that I have ever read, and one which should not only lead to an independent inquiry, but also to calls to press ahead with the closure of Guantánamo — and the repatriation of as many prisoners as possible — without further delay.

Scott Horton doesn’t ask another pertinent question — whether it is feasible that the three men died as a result of “enhanced interrogations” that went too far, or whether they were deliberately murdered. The panic that greeted the arrival of the corpses at the clinic on that dreadful day suggests the former, but on reflection it seems unlikely that three accidental deaths could occur in such a short space of time. As Guantánamo takes on a new name — the Death Camp — these doubts need to be addressed one way or another. Neither murder nor manslaughter is acceptable, of course, but neither is it acceptable for this disgraceful cover-up to continue.

As Yasser al-Zahrani’s father explained to Horton:

The truth is what matters. They practiced every form of torture on my son and on many others as well. What was the result? What facts did they find? They found nothing. They learned nothing. They accomplished nothing.

Please note that Shaker Aamer’s story features prominently in the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” co-directed by Polly Nash and myself, and available on DVD here.

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.

Cross-posted on Truthout, AlterNet, Common Dreams, The Public Record, The World Can’t Wait, Uruknet and the New Left Project. Also cross-posted as a “Must Read” on Michael Moore.

32 Responses

  1. Murders at Guantánamo: Scott Horton of Harper’s Exposes the Truth about the 2006 “Suicides” « Dandelion Salad says...

    […] Andy Worthington Featured Writer Dandelion Salad 18 January […]

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    The Talking Dog wrote:

    Obviously, the Scott Horton report is staggering — though the fact that the men’s bodies were returned without enough vital organs to do an autopsy was about as telling as anything else; now, at least, we finally have our whistle-blowers… we’ll see where this goes (my bet is “not much farther;” military cover-ups, despite the occasional spectacular story or two, are usually pretty effective.) That there was a CIA black site on site… is just remarkable (I mean, how redundant are they… we already had Camp Seven/Operation Platinum or whatever it was called… or was this yet something else? )

    Meanwhile, I’m told that GTMO itself is under use as a staging area for the current American military occupation of Haiti (12,000 Marines on the ground… “they’ve got to be protected, all their rights respected, until someone we like can be elected…”) Security — you know… these people might, you know… be disorderly… can’t have that… if a few starve to death, die of thirst or preventable disease… its a small price to pay to prevent… disorder…

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Over on AlterNet, LightningJoe wrote:

    I’ve wondered about the toll that torturing would take on the torturers; and wondered when I would hear of the mark it had made on their souls. I figured I was in for a good long wait.

    Well, I still haven’t heard that, but two people at least have spoken up. I fully expect that, since the “whole” government seems to have been in on the conference call on this, it will take much longer to collect enough evidence to go somewhere with it.

    — Unless, of course, we pile the pressure on for Justice to come clean on who they caved in to. If they do that, it might be a short show.

    Justice has an obligation to prosecute, when told of a crime. They can end an investigation, if and when they find it is groundless, but they are then obligated to relate to the public WHY they decided that — to show HOW the charge was proved to be groundless.

    It may be that we must pressure Congress, who at least seem uninvolved in this, to hold hearings.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Makaainana wrote:

    Dear President Obamb,

    It ain’t goin away. It won’t be covered up forever. It will come out and if you try to continue to turn a blind eye to the shameful chapter of our history that is Guantanamo and torture you will become complicit in the shame.

    Turn Eric Holder loose. Open the investigation and purge the national soul.

    …Before you become tainted with the shame.

    I am an Obama supporter, but I am an American first.

    “No man is above the law”, is more than a slogan in the US. It is a fact of life, and while it takes time sometimes to work out, the truth will come out. When it does spin will not save those that committed the horrors nor will it save those that tried to cover it up.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    peaceia85 wrote:

    We tortured people. We also send them to be tortured. We cover up. The public tolerates it. We are no better than many other governments. But we have good PR and voters easy to manipulate.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    grasshopper wrote:

    living in fear, fascism, phony media, it’s nice to get a bit of cold hard truth, and hard to write an uplifting response, but gee, thanks for bringing us inside the dungeon of death
    John Yoo is still teaching
    we are still breading fear, all fear all the time
    just look at the coverage of Haiti, teaching us fear, with few exceptions
    so sad

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    LeonBNJ wrote:

    To me there is little doubt these detainees were tortured to death to scare other detainees to giving in to their torturers, give up info, to make a lesson of them.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    triple6ix wrote:

    There is no “we” here. They do this criminal crap not me. Only any idiot that votes corporate should really feel any guilt. Obama you will be complicit? Obama IS complicit. People need to wake up from the “24” fairytale and realize that the war on terror is about torture and murder. It is not America that does this, it is psychopathic, ideology bloated minions of the New World Order.

    You can laugh it off, you can pretend it’s all fun politics and cerebral gymnastics but the reality is this world is run by ruthless, murdering, powerful men interested in ruling the roost.

    You can wake up to this now or I’ll be accepting your severely muffled apologies when CIA Joe is shoving rags down your throat and tazering your balls.

    When are people going to lose the rose-colored glasses and see this shit for what it is? Globally condemned, unlawful, secret, government sanctioned murder, some of the victims just children.

    I’m not even religious and I can call the mindset nothing short of Satanic. This entire country has gone irreversibly dissociated psychotic. Hard to even believe I have to share my one shot at life with you irresponsible, whiny, incapable, juvenile, uninformed, complacent incognizant homunculi.


  9. Andy Worthington says...

    QQOblivion wrote:

    Mass-murder, torture, cover-ups and obstruction of justice. All in our name. Ho hum. Nobody cares in America.
    A recent poll shows that the ratio of Americans supporting torture to those opposing it is 2-to-1.
    Nothing will change as long as ‘mericans hate ’em “rag-heads”.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    and peaceia85 also wrote:

    Why is this story not front page on CNN? Fox?

    1. The media does not want to upset the military industrial complex
    2. Do not want to appear sympathetic to terrorists.
    3. To remain on good terms with the administration
    4. Deliberate censoring of news that “give comfort to the enemy.
    under any circumstances, remember: that no court has ever convicted these people of any crime.
    If this was Al Qaeda act, stuffing rags in people’s mouths would have been presented as “chilling”, “Gruesome” “Barbaric”

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Over on Common Dreams, Jill wrote:

    This revelation raises profound issues that we as Americans have yet to address. Our govt. engaged(es) in rendition, murder and torture. It imprisons the innocent. There has been no accountability for these horrific crimes. Instead, people who planned, justified and implemented these actions remain in place in our govt. At the very least, the Obama administration has given them legal sanctuary. I don’t believe enough people realize the implications of this. When your govt. harbors war criminals, is run by them, this is an astounding danger to the people of the US and really the rest of the world.

    The govt. wields incredible power over society and individuals. That power rests in the hands of people who ordered and tolerate murder, rendition, unlawful surveillance and torture. What are we thinking that having these people in power will do to our social fabric? It is an absolute abrogation of the rule of law. How many societies do you know that last very long in even a rudimentary form where there is no rule of law? What has happened in other times when the ruling elite is a group of thugs?

    We should be up in arms, yet we are strangely silent. I suggest we break this silence very quickly. We must face down the thugocracy by every peaceful means at our disposal. This is not a time for complacency and “hopiness”. It is the time for peaceful, forceful action to restore the rule of law.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Bill from Saginaw wrote (inter alia):

    The Guantanamo murder expose is what quality investigative journalism, and the power of a free press under the First Amendment, is all about.

    If you build secret prisons and staff them with people who believe they are beyond the reach of the law, shit like this will inevitably happen. Attorney General Eric Holder should step up to the plate, convene a federal grand jury, and do his job. For those implicated on active US military duty, there should be courts martial.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Crowsnest wrote:

    Guantanamogate! There are so many questions unanswered that it is absolutely necessary for our rulers (Administration and Congress) to appoint a truly independent investigator with unfettered authority to demand all salient information regardless of where that information is hidden. For openers, the names of the prisoners who were seen to be transported to and from camp no on that specific date at that specific time must be made not only available to the investigator but must be made public.
    Perhaps the most damning question is: “why has the Obama administration waited until now to appoint an independent investigator for a case that had already raised serious questions”?
    If President Obama does not pronto appoint such an investigator he may be guilty of conspiring to hide the truth. That is cause for impeachment. “Slick Barry” should not be allowed to get away with murder this time.
    And then there is the sixty-million-dollar question: “when did Presidents Bush and Obama know what transpired on that day”?

    Crowsnest then added:

    I should also have written that the murder hypothesis raises salient questions of its own. Why three prisoners almost simultaneously? Why these prisoners? Are the remains still available for forensic examination? All of these unanswered questions cry out for an independent investigation, that is to say an investigation that cannot be controlled by the White House, the Congress, the CIA, and the Military. Someone must take responsibility. To paraphrase a favorite if shopworn Obama saying: “who dun it must be held accountable”.
    Last night the issue was aired by Keith Olberman. The White House can now no longer pretend that it does not know. Yesterday was January 17, 2010. Let us declare this the starting date for counting the days that President Obama has not yet ordered an independent investigation the same way that Keith counts “**** days since Mission Accomplished”.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    GottaGetOffTheGrid wrote:

    I remember years ago seeing painting depicting some scenes from the Spanish Inquisition. There were the typical apparatus: rack, head screws, red-hot pokers, etc.

    But the one that etched itself into my brain is a man standing with a rough rag on the end of a stick preparing to jam it down a man’s throat.

    just confess your sins and all will be forgiven…

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Pitch Fork wrote:

    So, we have indications that the government that lied us into war, the same government asleep at the switch on 9-11 that catalyzed all of this, the inappropriately named Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Coverups, and the Pentagon have been running a too big to fail, too secret to be accountable government within a government.

    And at this secret site, exactly who is the CIA these days, when they recently said after the attack in Afghanistan that they considered Xe contractors to be their own? Exactly what kind of privatized military is above the law in our country?

    I am grateful to the investigators and whistleblowers.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    luckylefty wrote:

    For those who read these pages with some frequency – WE KNEW THEY HAD KILLED THEM.

    To all the PATRIOTS involved in the exposure of this abomination perped by Amerikkkan torturers: You be careful out there. These boys and girls (even under BHO) have no Honor and will burn anybody.

    We always knew we had perps like this among us in positions of power. When such people are released to kill with impunity as they continue to be under the current ‘regime’, the prospect of deliberately imposing policies intended to produce Domestic Demographic Collapse – Human Die Back becomes entirely plausible. These people will murder anybody – in wholesale lots. DELIBERATE.

    “…if they will do this to a green twig, what will they do in the dry?”

    A world without mercy or humanity. Feral bestial cannibals. Horror. Pity the children.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Over on Truthout, Woodchip wrote:

    Since 2003 we Woodchippers have demanded that our elected representatives speak out against the Government’s barbarities. —- Back in June 2006 we wrote to senators (the ultra ‘liberal’ Barbara Boxer included) demanding that they speak out against the ongoing torture at Guantanamo. Of course we had no way of knowing that the suicides were murders. What we did know was that Washington’s dismissal of the suicides as reflecting “no regard for life” was a “depravity” that bespoke the “moral putrefaction” that pervaded the government. —– Back in 2005 we protested the “pulpification” murder of a 22 year old Afghani cab driver by US Army goon interrogators who strung him up at beat him to death over a four day period; —- and back in 2003 we excoriated the beyond belief brutality of the Guantanamo camp commander who dismissed detainee suicides as the acts of psychiatric cases with mental problems… Problems caused by US provided torture. —- So when the 2006 “suicides” came to light we wanted to know: “When are you and your supine colleagues going to show some impulse other than craven ambition and political cowardice? When will you recover a sense of shame? When will rise up and speak out against the depravity of this Administration and the culture of thuggery that has seized Washington?” ——- We never received an answer. We never heard a peep.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Northscape wrote:

    We are becoming what we most deplore in our enemies.I am sure that in Nazi Germany most people, if asked, wouldn’t have supported sending their Jewish neighbors to death camps, but they looked the other way. They didn’t want to know what in their hearts they already knew.

    Now one outrageous crime follows another but most people don’t want to know what they know. Knowledge insists that we act, and what can we as individuals do? Quite a lot, as it happens. Witness Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela. The list is fairly long but most of the names on it are not instantly recognizable. Witness Scott Horton, the author of the Harper’s article, and Sgt. Joe Hickman and his friend Tony Davila. They knew and they told what they knew. It’s incumbent on us to rise out of our lethargy and make a loud noise in support. Otherwise we might as well open the gates and welcome the barbarians in.

  19. Andy Worthington Discusses Murders at Guantánamo and Bagram’s “Ghost Prisoners” on Antiwar Radio « Dandelion Salad says...

    […] were killed, and that the suicide story was manufactured as a cover-up (which I also wrote about here); and my preliminary analysis of the first ever publicly available list of prisoners held in the US […]

  20. Torture in Afghanistan and Guantánamo: Shaker Aamer’s Lawyers Speak « says...

    […] Brent Mickum told Cahalan that Shaker Aamer was, effectively, being silenced to cover up “wrongdoing,” and referred to the Harper’s article, which, as Cahalan put it, said that “US government officials may have conspired to conceal evidence three Guantánamo detainees could have been murdered during interrogation,” by being suffocated. Cahalan also noted that the Harper’s article indicated that this “may explain why the US is reluctant to release Mr. Aamer, who has claimed he was part-suffocated while being tortured the same evening,” an explanation that I have also proposed. […]

  21. Abu Zubaydah’s Torture Diary « says...

    […] Torture Evidence (December 2009), Afghan Nobody Faces Trial by Military Commission (January 2010), Murders at Guantánamo: Scott Horton of Harper’s Exposes the Truth about the 2006 “Suicides” (January 2010), Two Algerian Torture Victims Are Freed from Guantánamo (January 2010), and the […]

  22. Guantanamo: Alle Zeichen deuten auf Ermordung eines Gefangenen « Ticker says...

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  23. All Guantánamo Prisoners Were Subjected to “Pharmacological Waterboarding” by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    […] Sgt. Joe Hickman, who was stationed at Guantánamo at the time of the suicides in 2006, and has presented evidence that demonstrates the three detainees could not have died by hanging themselves, noticed in the […]

  24. Suicide or Murder at Guantanamo? | STATESMAN SENTINEL says...

    […] more so in January this year when, in a compelling article in Harper’s Magazine, Scott Horton drew on eye-witness accounts by former soldiers, including Staff Sgt. Joe Hickman, to paint a vivid and genuinely disturbing […]

  25. On 5th Anniversary Of Disputed Guantánamo “Suicides,” Jeff Kaye Defends Scott Horton - OpEd says...

    […] the main perimeter fence — as I recommend anyone who has not read it to do so (and also to read my own commentary on it, and my follow-up here), but I will say that, having spoken to the lead soldier responsible […]

  26. WikiLeaks and the 22 Children of Guantánamo by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    […] 16. Yasser Talal al-Zahrani (ISN 93, Saudi Arabia) Born 22 September 1984, seized November 2001 (aged 17), died in Guantánamo June 2006. A survivor of the Qala-i-Janghi massacre in northern Afghanistan, he died under mysterious circumstances on the night of 9 June 2006, with two other prisoners, as Scott Horton reported last year for Harper’s Magazine (and see my report and updates here, here and here). […]

  27. Andy Worthington Interviewed by Sibel Edmonds and Peter B. Collins « Dandelion Salad says...

    […] days before Obama’s failed deadline, Scott Horton would publish an extraordinary story about the supposed suicides at Guantánamo in June 2006, and Obama’s interagency Task Force would choose the day of the […]

  28. WikiLeaks And The 22 Children Of Guantanamo says...

    […] as Scott Horton reported last year forHarper’s Magazine (and see my report and updates here, here […]

  29. As Judges Kill Off Habeas Corpus For Guantánamo Prisoners, Will Supreme Court Act? says...

    […] the 15, for example, although one died in Guantánamo in June 2006, in a disputed triple suicide, five of the remaining 14 have been released. Two of these men — Alla Ali Bin Ali […]

  30. The season of death at Guantánamo | San Francisco Bay View says...

    […] I explained in my analysis of Horton’s article at the […]

  31. The season of death at Guantánamo | Happily Natural says...

    […] I explained in my analysis of Horton’s article at the […]

  32. UN Secret Detention Report Asks, “Where Are The CIA Ghost Prisoners?” by Andy Worthington – Dandelion Salad says...

    […] and Lithuania. The report also touches on the existence of a secret facility within Guantánamo, exposed by Scott Horton for Harper’s Magazine last week, which prompted the experts to note that they were “very […]

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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 and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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