You may recall the somewhat bizarre response of the Pentagon to the news in June 2006 that three prisoners at Gitmo had somehow managed to hang themselves simultaneously in one of the most watched, patrolled and monitored prison sites in the world. The facts were bizarre: prisoners somehow had been hanging for two hours with rigor mortis when they were discovered; and their bodies were found to have a rag stuffed deep down their throats. But the strangeness and pathos of this event was only matched by the virulent anger of the Pentagon which immediately accused these defenseless and dead prisoners of "asymmetrical warfare" against the US.
Seton Hall University School of Law has now completed an exhaustive study of the entire affair. Much more disturbing than the actual deaths was the response of the authorities. Something is very awry here:
The original military press releases did not report that the detainees had been dead for more than two hours when they were discovered, nor that rigor mortis had set in by the time of discovery.
There is no explanation of how three bodies could have hung in cells for at least two hours while the cells were under constant supervision, both by video camera and by guards continually walking the corridors guarding only 28 detainees.
There is no explanation of how each of the detainees, much less all three, could have done the following: braided a noose by tearing up his sheets and/or clothing, made a mannequin of himself so it would appear to the guards he was asleep in his cell, hung sheets to block vision into the cell—a violation of Standard Operating Procedures, tied his feet together, tied his hands together, hung the noose from the metal mesh ofiithe cell wall and/or ceiling, climbed up on to the sink, put the noose around his neck and released his weight to result in death by strangulation, hanged until dead and hung for at least two hours completely unnoticed by guards.
There is no indication that the medics observed anything unusual on the cell block at the time that the detainees were hanging dead in their cells.
The initial military press releases did not report that, when the detainees‘ bodies arrived at the clinic, it was determined that each had a rag obstructing his throat.
There is no explanation of how the supposed acts of ―asymmetrical warfare‖ could have been coordinated by the three detainees, who had been on the same cell block fewer than 72 hours with occupied and unoccupied cells between them and under constant supervision.
There is no explanation of why the Alpha Block guards were advised that they were suspected of making false statements or failing to obey direct orders.
There is no explanation of why the guards were ordered not to provide sworn statements about what happened that night.
There is no explanation of why the government seemed to be unable to determine which guards were on duty that night in Alpha Block.
There is no explanation of why the guards who brought the bodies to the medics did not tell the medics what had happened to cause the deaths and why the medics never asked how the deaths had occurred.
There is no explanation of why no one was disciplined for acts or failures to act that night.
There is no explanation of why the guards on duty in the cell block were not systematically interviewed about the events of the night; why the medics who visited the cell block before the hangings were not interviewed; or why the tower guards, who had the responsibility and ability to observe all activity in the camp, were not interviewed.
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