Sunday, June 18, 2006

You know those three Guantanamo suicides that we were told were asymmetrical warfare rather than acts of desperation?

This stuff is inhuman. Guantanamo's very existence defames our country and the very principles it is meant to defend.

One of the three men who committed suicide at Guantanamo Bay, a Saudi, had been cleared to leave Guantanamo after four years of detention without seeing a lawyer or any due process. (Correction: they had "due process" to the extent the President of the United States provides due process when he signs a document hundreds of miles away collectively declaring hundreds of people "enemy combatants" without any individual hearing, evidence, witnesses, or findings of fact).

This man was never told that he was leaving Gitmo.

Another, a Yemani, had a lawyer but was never told so. The third was captured as a teenager fighting with the Taliban.

And we're supposed to believe that these weren't acts of desperation?

From the Miami Herald:

The Yemeni captive who killed himself at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had an attorney arranging to visit him in August, but did not know it when he committed suicide.

One of the Saudis, Mani Shaman al Utaybi, 30, had been approved for transfer to a jail back home, but also had never been told he was cleared to depart the U.S. detention center.

As the Pentagon was silent Thursday on the repatriation of the bodies of the three men from the island prison, their lawyers questioned whether their isolation and lack of knowledge about their status contributed to their deaths.

The three men hanged themselves in Camp 1 with nooses made from shredded bedsheets and towels on Saturday in what the military called a choreographed group suicide. Rear Adm. Harry Harris Jr., the camps' commander, described it as an act of "asymmetrical warfare."

But attorneys for the men_who the military initially said had no lawyers_say that had the detainees known of legal efforts on their behalf, they might be alive today.

"As far as we know he (Ali Abdullah Ahmed) did not know he had an attorney. We certainly never got through to him to advise him of that fact," said Dave Engelhardt of Washington, D.C., who had filed a habeas corpus petition for Ahmed, the 29- or 30-year-old Yemeni.

"Perhaps he would have not have committed suicide if he had known the facts of his representation of counsel and the progress that is being made in the American courts for the detainees."

. . .

Both Engelhardt and attorney Jeff Davis of Charlotte, N.C., said government lawyers had thwarted repeated attempts to see their clients.

Davis said his firm was notified more than a month ago that Utaybi was approved for transfer back to Saudi Arabia. But the notice came under a seal of secrecy, said Davis, so Utaybi, who had never met his lawyer, did not know he would be sent home - which The Miami Herald confirmed independently.

"I think the humane thing to do when you've decided to change those conditions of confinement, you tell him, particularly if the change is to send him home," said Davis.

. . .

As of Thursday, the most current count of captives at Guantanamo stood at "approximately 460."


Via TalkLeft.

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