Guantanamo suicides 'acts of war'

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Guantanamo suicides 'acts of war'

Post by admin » Sun Jun 11, 2006 8:11 am

Guantanamo suicides 'acts of war'

The suicides of three detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, amount to acts of war, the US military says.

The camp commander said the two Saudis and a Yemeni were "committed" and had killed themselves in "an act of asymmetric warfare waged against us".

Lawyers said the men who hanged themselves had been driven by despair.

A military investigation into the deaths is now under way, amid growing calls for the detention centre to be moved or closed.

Walter White, an international lawyer who specialises in human rights, told the BBC the Guantanamo camp was likely to be considered a "great stain" on the human rights record of the US.

There have been dozens of suicide attempts since the camp was set up four years ago - but none successful until now.

The men were found unresponsive and not breathing by guards on Saturday morning, said officials.

They were in separate cells in Camp One, the highest security section of the prison.

They hanged themselves with clothing and bed sheets, camp commander Rear Adm Harry Harris said.

He said medical teams had tried to revive the men, but all three were pronounced dead.

Rear Adm Harris said he did not believe the men had killed themselves out of despair.

"They are smart. They are creative, they are committed," he said.

"They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

All three men had previously taken part in some of the mass on-and-off hunger strikes undertaken by detainees since last August, and all three had been force-fed by camp authorities.

They had left suicide notes, but no details have been made available.

The US military said the men's bodies were being treated "with the utmost respect".

White House spokesman Tony Snow said Mr Bush had "expressed serious concern" at the deaths.

"He also stressed that it was important to treat the bodies humanely and with cultural sensitivity," he said.

A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair described the suicide as a "sad incident".


UK Constitutional Affairs Minister Harriet Harman told the BBC on Sunday the camp should be moved to the US or shut down.

"If it's perfectly legal and there's nothing going wrong there - well, why don't they have it in America and then the American court system can supervise it?" she said.

William Goodman from the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights told AFP news agency the three dead men were "heroes for those of us who believe in basic American values of justice, fairness and democracy".

Mr Goodman, whose organisation represents some 300 detainees, said the government had denied them that.

Ken Roth, head of Human Rights Watch in New York, told the BBC the men had probably been driven by despair.

"These people are despairing because they are being held lawlessly," he said.

"There's no end in sight. They're not being brought before any independent judges. They're not being charged and convicted for any crime."

On Friday, Mr Bush said he would "like to end Guantanamo", adding he believed the inmates "ought to be tried in courts here in the United States".

Story from BBC NEWS: ... 068606.stm

Published: 2006/06/11 10:31:45 GMT


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Post by admin » Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:05 am

[quote] ""They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of warfare waged against us"

Rear Adm Harry Harris
Camp commander[/quote]
Can you believe the kind of nonsense we are assaulted with these days by this cabal in Washington DC?

[quote]They have no regard for life, either ours or their own.[/quote]
How much regard have Americans in positions of power demonstrated for the lives of Iraqis??????????????????????????

Look at how many Iraqi civilians have been killed in cold blood [physicians and policemen in Fallujah; ordinary people on their wedding day; men, women, and children everywhere seeking to escape the brutality the U.S. has come to stand for] and he has the nerve to say that! Oh, I see, what he is trying to say, in his arrogant way, is that "we" still have regard for life, "our own". "We would not end our own lives," in this manner. "We would carry on our lives of privilege, go to Church on Sunday, pray for peace in the world, beat the shit out of people in Iraq, ask God for his mercy and continued protection, but in no way would we engage in suicide pacts like those infidels in Guantanamo jails who have no regard for life whatsoever..." "In fact, by killing themselves, THEY ARE ATTACKING US, those bastards, in the only way that they have left. Those are ACTS OF WAR, and we had better bring the system to bear down on them even more than we have already. Why can't those sub-humans accept the generous treatment that we give them in Guantanamo, courtesy of our taxpayers, and shut the hell up in every way? The news of their deaths threatens our peace. Imagine if they continue to kill themselves that way, without regard for American lives which they might come to disturb [conceivably]. This is a little too close for comfort. By killing themselves, those infidels are committing acts of terrorism against America and causing grief to our compassionate president, George W. Bush, who champions TRUTH, JUSTICE, DEMOCRACY, and FREEDOM in this godless non-Christian world of theirs. How DARE they cause death to themselves? As the most potent military force on Earth, we should have that privilege. Don't take away our rights, you zealots!

Free translation provided by Guy S. Antoine, who simply adds: "Not in my name".

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Post by admin » Mon Jun 12, 2006 5:08 pm


[quote]Spinning Suicide
By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Monday 12 June 2006

They are smart, they are creative, they are committed. They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.
-- Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., Commander, Joint Task Force, Guantánamo

Three men being held in the United States military prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, killed themselves by hanging in their cells on Saturday. The Team Bush spin machine immediately swept into high gear.

Military officials characterized their deaths as a coordinated protest. The commander of the prison, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., called it "asymmetrical warfare."

Colleen Graffy, the deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy, said taking their lives "certainly is a good PR move."

Meanwhile, George W. Bush expressed "serious concern" about the deaths. "He stressed the importance of treating the bodies in a humane and culturally sensitive manner," said Christie Parell, a White House spokeswoman.

How nice that Bush wants their bodies treated humanely, after treating them like animals for four years while they were alive. Bush has defied the Geneva Conventions' command that all prisoners be treated humanely. He decided that "unlawful combatants" are not entitled to humane treatment because they are not prisoners of war.

Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions requires that no prisoners, even "unlawful combatants," may be subjected to humiliating and degrading treatment. Incidentally, the Pentagon has decided to omit the mandates of Article 3 Common from its new detainee policies.

Bush resisted the McCain anti-torture amendment to a spending bill at the end of last year, sending Dick Cheney to prevail upon John McCain to exempt the CIA from its prohibition on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners. When McCain refused to alter his amendment, Bush signed the bill, quietly adding one of his "signing statements," saying that he feels free to ignore the prohibition if he wants to.

Bush & Co. are fighting in the Supreme Court to deny the Guantánamo prisoners access to US courts to challenge their confinement. The Court will announce its decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld by the end of this month.

This hardly sounds like a man who believes in humane treatment for live human beings.

The three men who committed suicide, Mani bin Shaman bin Turki al-Habradi,Yasser Talal Abdulah Yahya al-Zahrani, and Ali Abdullah Ahmed, were being held indefinitely at Guantánamo. None had been charged with any crime. All had participated in hunger strikes and been force-fed, a procedure the United Nations Human Rights Commission called "torture."

"A stench of despair hangs over Guantánamo. Everyone is shutting down and quitting," said Mark Denbeaux, a lawyer for two of the prisoners there. His client, Mohammed Abdul Rahman, "is trying to kill himself" in a hunger strike. "He told us he would rather die than stay in Guantánamo," Denbeaux added.

While the Bush administration is attempting to characterize the three suicides as political acts of martyrdom, Shafiq Rasul, a former Guantánamo prisoner who himself participated in a hunger strike while there, disagrees. "Killing yourself is not something that is looked at lightly in Islam, but if you're told day after day by the Americans that you're never going to go home or you're put into isolation, these acts are committed simply out of desperation and loss of hope," he said. "This was not done as an act of martyrdom, warfare or anything else."

"The total, intractable unwillingness of the Bush administration to provide any meaningful justice for these men is what is at the heart of these tragedies," according to Bill Goodman, the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents many of the Guantánamo prisoners.

Last year, at least 131 Guantánamo inmates engaged in hunger strikes, and 89 have participated this year. US military guards, with assistance from physicians, are tying them into restraint chairs and forcing large plastic tubes down their noses and into their stomachs to keep them alive. Lawyers for the prisoners have reported the pain is excruciating.

The suicides came three weeks after two other prisoners tried to kill themselves by overdosing on antidepressant drugs.

Bush is well aware that more dead US prisoners would be embarrassing for his administration, especially in light of the documented torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the execution of civilians in Haditha.

More than a year ago, the National Lawyers Guild and the American Association of Jurists called for the US government to shut down its "concentration camp" at Guantánamo. The UN Human Rights Commission, the UN Committee against Torture, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and the Council of Europe, have also advocated the closure of Guantánamo prison.

Bush says he would like to close the prison, but is awaiting the Supreme Court's decision. At the same time, however, his administration is spending $30 million to construct permanent cells at Guantánamo.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, President-elect of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. She writes a weekly column for Truthout.

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And the Oscar Goes To ...

Post by admin » Tue Jun 13, 2006 12:52 pm


[quote]And the Oscar Goes To ...
By William Fisher
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 13 June 2006

You can only be bemused by the title of the lady at the US State Department who called the suicides of three prisoners a "good PR move to draw attention."

Her name is Colleen Graffy, and her title is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. That's Public Diplomacy.

Her official State Department bio says Ms. Graffy "coordinates efforts with Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes."

One has to wonder if she coordinated her suicide remarks with Ms. Hughes, the longtime Bush spinmeister whose job it is to "win hearts and minds" for America throughout the world, and especially in the Muslim world.

My brain tells me she didn't consult Ms. Hughes, but my gut tells me it's not beyond the realm of possibility. That's because since President Bush asked Ms. Hughes to take on this impossible job, she has also suffered from foot-in-mouth disease.

Like telling upper-class Saudi women that they ought to be able to drive cars, only to hear that, thank you very much, they'd much rather use their drivers.

But the Graffy gaffe takes the foot-in-mouth malady to a whole new level. In fact, if there were an Oscar for the dumbest remark made since 9/11, this lady's words would rank right up there with "bring it on" and "Mission Accomplished."

And even if she doesn't go home with the award, I predict her words will become as iconic as Rummy's comments that "stuff happens," "you go to war with the army you have," and all the people at GITMO are "the worst of the worst."

But wait - there's more. Apparently not content with one foot in her mouth, Ms. Graffy stuck the other one in as well. She told the BBC the suicides were part of a strategy and "a tactic to further the jihadi cause," but taking their own lives was unnecessary. The three men did not value their lives or the lives of those around them, she said.

Then she went on to explain that the three detainees had access to lawyers, received mail and had the ability to write to families, and so had other means of making protests. She said it was hard to see why the men had not protested about their situation.

Evidently she hadn't heard about the hunger strikes and the many previous suicide attempts.

We don't know a lot about these three men. They may indeed have been among the "worst of the worst.Ó One, we have since learned, was scheduled to be released but hadn't yet been told. And none of them were among the ten - out of close to 500 prisoners - who have ever been charged with a crime or had a trial.

Along with 460 others, they were in a legal black hole, charged with nothing but facing indefinite imprisonment. So exactly who would they protest to?

But wait - we're in luck! Guantanamo's commander, Rear Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., mercifully brings a bit of clarity to the confusion. He explains that the suicides were "not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

Asymmetrical warfare. Got it now?

William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and in many other parts of the world for the US State Department and USAID for the past thirty years. He began his work life as a journalist for newspapers and for the Associated Press in Florida. Go to The World According to Bill Fisher for more. [/quote]

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