Monday, January 18, 2010

America's Descent Into Evil

Harper's recently published a lengthy article examining the events surrounding the three supposed suicides at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on June 9, 2006. It's clear from the glaringly obvious inconsistencies in the reports and the sloppy attempts to cover everything up that suicide was almost certainly not the cause the men's deaths.

Shaker Aamer was tortured on the same day that the other men died, and gave this statement in an affidavit with the federal district court in Washington:

On June 9th, 2006, [Aamer] was beaten for two and a half hours straight. Seven naval military police participated in his beating. Mr. Aamer stated he had refused to provide a retina scan and fingerprints. He reported to me that he was strapped to a chair, fully restrained at the head, arms and legs. The MPs inflicted so much pain, Mr. Aamer said he thought he was going to die. The MPs pressed on pressure points all over his body: his temples, just under his jawline, in the hollow beneath his ears. They choked him. They bent his nose repeatedly so hard to the side he thought it would break. They pinched his thighs and feet constantly. They gouged his eyes. They held his eyes open and shined a mag-lite in them for minutes on end, generating intense heat. They bent his fingers until he screamed. When he screamed, they cut off his airway, then put a mask on him so he could not cry out.

While it's impossible to corroborate this story, the fact that his airway was repeatedly cut off on the same day that the other men died from asphyxiation makes the logical connection all too easy.

Even more disgusting is how the bodies of the men arrived to their families missing the body parts that would show evidence of murder:

[In the official report] The pathologists place the time of death “at least a couple of hours” before the bodies were discovered, which would be sometime before 10:30 p.m. on June 9. Additionally, the autopsy of Al-Salami states that his hyoid bone was broken, a phenomenon usually associated with manual strangulation, not hanging.

The report asserts that the hyoid was broken “during the removal of the neck organs.” An odd admission, given that these are the very body parts—the larynx, the hyoid bone, and the thyroid cartilage—that would have been essential to determining whether death occurred from hanging, from strangulation, or from choking. These parts remained missing when the men’s families finally received their bodies.

All the families requested independent autopsies. The Saudi prisoners were examined by Saeed Al-Ghamdy, a pathologist based in Saudi Arabia. Al-Salami, from Yemen, was inspected by Patrice Mangin, a pathologist based in Switzerland. Both pathologists noted the removal of the structure that would have been the natural focus of the autopsy: the throat. Both pathologists contacted the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, requesting the missing body parts and more information about the previous autopsies. The institute did not respond to their requests or queries.

Obviously, something's being hidden.

But this brings us to the final point. Why were these men killed? What did they know that was valuable? As the article notes, there was no evidence linking these men to terrorist activities, so they were being held without cause. Is that why they were tortured? So that the Bush Justice Department could find evidence to justify holding them with for so long?

We may never know, just as we probably won't know just how far Bush and Cheney went with their torture programs, and the fact that the Obama Administration seems intent on putting all of this behind us is deeply disappointing. The opportunity for justice is fast slipping away.

Regardless, this kind of behavior is what the American Right now sees as acceptable. When you see Hannity or Limbaugh defending the Bush Administration's use of torture, this is what they're defending. They represent a particularly disgusting rot in America's core that has completely compromised our long-cherished position as the world's moral compass. The men who died at the hands of officially-sanctioned American interrogators may have been terrorists, I don't know. They may have been innocent. Either way, what happened on June 9, 2006 wasn't justice. It was petty revenge pure and simple.

Please, read the entirety of the article. More Americans need to be aware of what was done in their name.

No comments:

Post a Comment