By Meghan Chrisner & Adam Deutsch
The Department of Defense has long alleged that on the evening of June 9, 2006, three detainees committed suicide in the same cell block. In December, after spending almost a year analyzing the investigations conducted by NCIS, The Center For Policy & Research at Seton Hall University School of Law issued “Death in Camp Delta”, a report that reveals that the deaths did not occur as alleged, and that the investigation was massively incompetent or a cover-up. A formal call to investigation has been issued by the editorial board of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, demanding that President Obama appoint a special prosecutor to conduct an investigation and uncover the truth behind these three deaths. Research Fellows at the Center For Policy & Research join in the call for appointment of a special prosecutor, Congressional hearings, or both.
According to the Dispatch, “There’s growing evidence that suggests that three detainees — two from Saudi Arabia and one from Yemen — died from torture-related injuries at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in 2006. The military cover story strains credulity. A subsequent inquiry by the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service fared worse.” The call to investigation is based in part on new evidence published by Harper’s Magazine. In the January 18 article “The Guantanamo Suicides: A Camp Delta Sergeant Blows the Whistle,” Harper’s confirms and builds upon the issues reported earlier by Seton Hall by telling the stories of Sergeant Joe Hickman and two other soldiers who served at Guantanamo Bay during the summer of 2006. Hickman and his fellow soldiers have confirmed that the detainees could not have committed suicide in their cells as the government claims. In Harper’s, author Scott Horton exposes strong evidence of a secret facility resembling other CIA “dark cites” at Guantanamo that has likely been used to torture and interrogate detainees.
Seton Hall and Harper’s offer proof that significant violations of the Guantanamo Standard Operating Procedures occurred on the night of June 9, 2006 and yet no one was ever disciplined. Autopsies of the deceased were performed in an unprofessional manner, and pieces of the detainees neck organs were withheld by the government when the bodies were delivered to the families. Removal of these organs prevented secondary autopsies from accurately assessing the cause of death. The government claims the detainees used sheets to braid nooses, create mannequins to confuse guards, and hung sheets across their cells so as to block view of their hanging. Nowhere has the government explained how the detainees would have access to so much fabric material. Congress should interview the NCIS investigators. In addition, interviews should take place with Colonel Michael Bumgarner who spoke to all guards on duty in the early morning following the detainee deaths. Bumgarner is reported as having told guards that the detainees died by swallowing rags, but that the deaths would be reported differently in the news.
Truth has been obstructed for far too long. The American public deserves to know that their military is acting in a professional and lawful manner in securing the safety of our country. The only investigations which have thus far taken place were incompetent or cover-ups seeking to obstruct the truth. America’s political leadership must heed the call and seek to uncover the true story about how three men died under the supervision and care of our armed servicemen. Each time it is suspected that a detainee has been tortured and mistreated, the true terrorist threat is given a recruiting tool. Research Fellows at Seton Hall’s Center For Policy and Research support and encourage the calls for Congressional hearings and the appointment of a special prosecutor. The calls for justice must be answered.