Barack Obama pledged to close Guantanamo within a year of his inauguration. But Gitmo is still open and too many of the dark and toxic stories that characterized Gitmo under Bush are still in evidence.
Here are two of them.
Seven Chinese ethnic-minority Uighurs being held on Guantanamo contend that they are being held illegally by the U.S, government. Their case has come to Supreme court.
In yesterday’s Slate, Rebecca Crootof and Oona A. Hathaway have an analysis. Here’s a clip
The Uighurs’ story is by now depressingly familiar. Having fled first to Afghanistan to avoid persecution in China and then to Pakistan to avoid U.S. bombing in the wake of 9/11, the Uighurs were turned over to the U.S. military by local inhabitants in exchange for $5,000 per person. The United States suspected them of being enemy combatants (wrongly, our government now admits) and sent them to Guantanamo Bay, where they have been imprisoned for the past seven years.
After the Uighurs’ detention was challenged in court, the U.S. government determined that there was no legal reason to continue to hold them. But repatriation to China was not an option. The United States concluded that the Uighurs might well face persecution and perhaps even torture as suspected members of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, which China regards as a terrorist organization.
Switzerland has finally agreed to take the Uighurs, thus suggesting they should be released. So why hasn’t it happened? Perhaps the Surpemes will answer that question.
THE GUANTANAMO 3: WAS IT A TRIPLE SUICIDE??
While the Uighurs’ limbo is deeply disturbing, the story of the three prisoners whom, we are told, committed a coordinated suicide on the same night chills in a whole different way.
A law professor with his students, plus a reporter from Harper’s magazine named Scott Horton, all got drawn into investigating the issue.
The stories below tell what these investigations found. .
First, the journey taken by the law professor and his students as told this week on Dick Gordon’s The Story.
Here’s a clip of the text. (And there are links to the investigation.) But listening to this story is the thing.
When three prisoners at Guantanamo Bay died on the same night in June 2006, the official report said they had committed coordinated suicides by hanging themselves in their cells. Years later, a Seton Hall University professor named Mark Denbeaux asked a group of his law students take another look based on newly-released documents from multiple investigations. Adam Deutsch and Kelli Stout were part of that group. They were shocked to learn the three men had been dead at least two hours before they were found, when they were supposedly under constant supervision. And that was just the beginning.
And now there ‘s Scott Horton’s investigation that will appear in the March issue of Harper’s Magazine.
The opening makes a sobering accusation:
When President Barack Obama took office last year, he promised to “restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great.” Toward that end, the president issued an executive order declaring that the extra-constitutional prison camp at GuantÃ¡namo Naval Base “shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order.” Obama has failed to fulfill his promise. Some prisoners there are being charged with crimes, others released, but the date for closing the camp seems to recede steadily into the future. Furthermore, new evidence now emerging may entangle Obama’s young administration with crimes that occurred during the George W. Bush presidency, evidence that suggests the current administration failed to investigate seriouslyâ€”and may even have continuedâ€”a cover-up of the possible homicides of three prisoners at GuantÃ¡namo in 2006.
Late on the evening of June 9 that year, three prisoners at GuantÃ¡namo died suddenly and violently. Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, from Yemen, was thirty-seven. Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, from Saudi Arabia, was thirty. Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, also from Saudi Arabia, was twenty-two, and had been imprisoned at GuantÃ¡namo since he was captured at the age of seventeen. None of the men had been charged with a crime, though all three had been engaged in hunger strikes to protest the conditions of their imprisonment. They were being held in a cell block, known as Alpha Block, reserved for particularly troublesome or high-value prisoners…..
For me, it was Horton’s work in combination with that of the law prof and his students that made this a case that demands investigation.