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21 Jan, 2010 21:45

Suicides or murders at Guantanamo Bay

One year ago, Barack Obama promised to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Not only does Gitmo remain open, but questions about the treatment of prisoners there continues.

 A year ago, US President Barack Obama promised that the American prison at Guantanamo Bay would be closed by Jan. 22. As that date grows closer, few believe the deadline will be met. Additionally, the treatment of prisoners at the facility continues to be questioned, and allegations of torture there continue.In the upcoming March issue of Harper’s Magazine, available on newsstands Feb. 15, contributing editor Scott Horton unveils a cover-up surrounding the suspicious deaths of three inmates at Guantanamo in 2006. Although the deaths took place under the administration of former US President George W. Bush, Horton suggests that the Obama administration failed to pursue evidence related to the incident.Horton interviewed soldiers who worked at the base, particularly the sergeant who was on duty the night of the incident. Horton’s research, which includes extensive interviews with soldiers working the night of the deaths, suggests not only that the men were murdered, but that they were held in a previously unknown black site at Guantanamo.

“These three prisoners were removed from the camp that evening, taken down a winding road to a secret installation which the soldiers believe was operated by the CIA or the joint operations command, and they did not return from that facility alive,” Horton said. 

According to Horton’s sources, one of the base commanders told his subordinates that the media would get a very specific story – that the inmates had committed suicide by hanging themselves – and that no soldier or sailor on the base was to imply anything differently. Another commanding officer suggested that these “suicides” were not acts of desperation but rather acts of “asymmetrical warfare.”

“We were interviewing number of different soldiers who were there that evening. Words spread among the soldiers that the prisoners had died from choking on clothes. They were then told: ‘You all know these people died by chocking on cloths, but soon the media is going to be reporting a different story. The media is going to be reporting that they died by hanging. You may not dispute or any way undermind the official account,‘” Horton said.

As some Gitmo inmates enter their ninth year of imprisonment, Guantanamo remains a place of more questions than answers.

 Scott Horton’s article is available for free online at http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/01/hbc-90006368.