New details about one of the Cheney torture techniques that may have killed three prisoners at Gitmo:
On June 9th, 2006, [Aamer] was beaten for two and a half hours straight. Seven naval military police participated in his beating. Mr. Aamer stated he had refused to provide a retina scan and fingerprints. He reported to me that he was strapped to a chair, fully restrained at the head, arms and legs. The MPs inflicted so much pain, Mr. Aamer said he thought he was going to die. The MPs pressed on pressure points all over his body: his temples, just under his jawline, in the hollow beneath his ears. They choked him. They bent his nose repeatedly so hard to the side he thought it would break. They pinched his thighs and feet constantly. They gouged his eyes. They held his eyes open and shined a mag-lite in them for minutes on end, generating intense heat. They bent his fingers until he screamed. When he screamed, they cut off his airway, then put a mask on him so he could not cry out.
The treatment Aamer describes is noteworthy because it produces excruciating pain without leaving lasting marks. Still, the fact that Aamer had his airway cut off and a mask put over his face “so he could not cry out” is an alarming fact. This is the same technique that appears to have been used on the three deceased prisoners.
This was Hickman's memory of the frantic scene after the alleged suicides:
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.
But what really takes you into the realm of totalitarian states is the chilling fact that the bodies were returned to their families in pieces. One part of each body that had been removed was the neck:
The pathologists place the time of death “at least a couple of hours” before the bodies were discovered, which would be sometime before 10:30 p.m. on June 9. Additionally, the autopsy of Al-Salami states that his hyoid bone was broken, a phenomenon usually associated with manual strangulation, not hanging.
The report asserts that the hyoid was broken “during the removal of the neck organs.” An odd admission, given that these are the very body partsthe larynx, the hyoid bone, and the thyroid cartilagethat would have been essential to determining whether death occurred from hanging, from strangulation, or from choking. These parts remained missing when the men’s families finally received their bodies.
(Photo: In this photo, reviewed by the US military, an American flag waves, pictured through a broken window from inside a vacant airplane hangar used for media activities at Camp Justice, site of the US war crimes tribunal compound at Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base, Cuba, Thursday, July 16, 2009. By Brennan Linsley/AFP/Getty Images.)