by smintheus / The DailyKos..com – 2007-06-02 00:32:03
(May 31, 2007) — 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 exceedingly 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.”
Guantanamo Detainee Who Died in Apparent Suicide Was Saudi Veteran, Jihadist
The Associated Press
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico: (May 31, 2007) — The detainee who died at Guantanamo Bay in an apparent suicide was identified as a Saudi military veteran and self-described Islamic holy warrior who denied he ever intended to kill Americans.
U.S. military records show the detainee admitted having a connection to al-Qaida but insisted he was little more than a Taliban foot soldier when the United States invaded Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The military and the Saudi government on Thursday identified the detainee as Abdul Rahman Maadha al-Amry. U.S. records show he was 34 and had been held without charges at the prison at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in southeastern Cuba since February 2002.
Al-Amry had no attorney of record, although the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a blanket legal challenge on behalf of all Guantanamo detainees. Lawyers say many detainees have little faith in the American legal system but others simply do not understand it.
The U.S. military said al-Amry was not breathing when he was found Wednesday by guards in Camp 5, a modern, high-security section of Guantanamo generally reserved for detainees who are considered to have intelligence value or who do not follow prison rules.
Al-Amry was said by another detainee to have been on a hunger strike in March. Military records recently obtained by The Associated Press suggest he had also refused food in the past, with his weight dropping below 90 pounds (41 kilograms) at one point in 2005. He weighed 150 pounds (68 kilograms) when he entered Guantanamo.
A Guantanamo spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Rick Haupt, said al-Amry was not on a hunger strike at the time of his death, but he had been force-fed with a nasal tube in the past. He said he did not know if the prisoner had attempted suicide in the past.
Authorities have not revealed how they believe he killed himself in what would be the fourth suicide at the detention center, which holds about 380 men on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.
Haupt said al-Amry’s cell was “regularly” monitored by guards, though he did not say how often. “We will seek to understand what happened and we will seek to prevent it from happening again,” he said.”
The military has also not disclosed any potential motive for suicide, although Guantanamo critics say indefinite confinement in the solid-wall, one-person cells for all but about two hours a day at Camps 5 and 6 has caused depression among detainees.
“Camp 5 is just utterly grim psychologically,” said Sabin Willett, a lawyer for Guantanamo detainees. “There’s no question that isolation destroys human beings.”
The apparent suicide came nearly a year after two Saudis and one Yemeni hanged themselves with sheets at Guantanamo — a case that prompted the military to adopt new security measures aimed at preventing such deaths.
Al-Amry did not appear before the military panel that determined he was an “enemy combatant” who should be kept in custody. But he spoke to a personal representative appointed by the military and acknowledged some of the accusations against him, according to a transcript of the hearing obtained by AP last year through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
He said he went to Afghanistan in 2000 and fought for the Taliban because he felt it was his duty as a Muslim to aid an Islamic government. He said he attended a “school for jihad” and saw Osama bin Laden “from a distance.”
Al-Amry also said he served in the Saudi army for nine years and four months, at times receiving training from the U.S. military.
“Detainee said had his desire been to fight and kill Americans, he could have done that while he was side by side with them in Saudi Arabia,” the transcript said. “His intent (in traveling to Afghanistan) was to go and fight for a cause that he believed in as a Muslim toward Jihad, not to go and fight against the Americans.”
Associated Press writer Michael Melia contributed to this story.
Guantanamo ‘Suicide’ Was in Maximum-Security Cell
(01 June 2007) — The Saudi Arabian prisoner who apparently committed suicide at Guantanamo Bay this week was being held in isolation in the maximum-security Camp Five section.
That disclosure can only add to international pressure for the facility to be shut down.
The Pentagon has not named the victim, nor formally confirmed a cause of death. It was left to the Saudi government in Riyadh to identify him as Abdul Rahman Maadha al-Amry. According to US Southern Command, in whose jurisdiction the prison falls, he was found dead in his cell on Wednesday afternoon “unresponsive and not breathing”.
There was no word of what Mr al-Amry – who had not been charged – was supposed to have done, or where he was originally picked up. But a US spokesman said he had been detained in the part of Guantanamo reserved for the “least compliant” and “high-value” inmates. “The actual cause of death is under investigation,” he added.
Assuming it is confirmed, the suicide would be the fourth since the prison camp opened in January 2002, after two Saudi detainees and one Yemeni hanged themselves with sheets a year ago.
“I can assure you it is hell on earth,” said Wells Dixon, a US defence lawyer who has met detainees at Camp Five. Many of them were in evident despair: “You can see it on their faces. It’s transparent.”
Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the Reprieve organisation which represents 37 Guantanamo prisoners, said last night: “After more than five years without any charges, the prisoners in Guantanamo are becoming increasingly desperate.” The group had warned that more suicides were inevitable, but “they [the US military] remain frozen in a nightmare of their own creation”.
Guantanamo must be closed immediately, he added. “There is enough blood on everyone’s hands.”
In a separate challenge to the treatment of terrorist suspects, the American Civil Liberties Union is suing Jeppesen Dataplan, a subsidiary of the Boeing company, claiming it secretly flew three CIA-held suspects overseas, where they were tortured.
The cases involve Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian citizen, in July 2002 and January 2004; Elkassim Britel, an Italian citizen, in May 2002; and Ahmed Agiza, an Egyptian citizen, in December 2001.
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