June 12, 2006

How the Guantanamo suicides planned and coordinated their actions.

If accurate, doesn't this support the government's theory that these were warriors maneuvering and not individuals despairing?

68 comments:

Goesh said...

- by hook and sheet will they make to the arms of allah and cause at least some discomfort to their infidel keepers, being unable to blow them up or otherwise kill them. What the hell, souring the appetite of an infidel jailer and causing him to stand tall and be scrutinized by his superiors counts for something in the ongoing jihad....

MadisonMan said...

I don't see much reporting on how the dead coordinated their actions. I'm sure they probably did -- three suicides at once stretches the bounds of coincidence -- but the only inkling in the article is that they could have communicated, not that they did.

If you're killing yourself in a cell, where there is meant to be routine surveillance, don't you by necessity have to use stealth? Why is that news? I think an alternative headline could be: "Breakdown in Oversight helped suicides". There's as much evidence of that in the article as there is of coordination.

By the way, the General looks like he's wearing priest's garb to me, until you expand the image and see the stars.

Ann Althouse said...

The mere fact that the three suicides were simultaneous tends to show they did it for the effect and not (merely) to escape their predicament. Read the details in the article. There were suicide notes, and we haven't been told yet what those say.

I don't find the despair theory too plausible. The conditions in the prison aren't bad (so I've read). If the men see themselves as prisoners of war, why would they despair to the point of wanting to die? Is that how other prisoners of war have reacted when held in indefinite captivity?

Suicide makes more sense for those who know that if tried they will be found guilty and face the death penalty. Read the information in the article about who the suicides were before responding about the despair of the innocent prisoner. We have released many prisoners, so anyone who is innocent has hope of gaining release.

SteveR said...

"asymmetric warfare" We came out looking bad, they died but scored a victory.

Joe said...

The poor depressed prisoners committing suicide is a much more sympathetic story for the mainstream media's template, than would be American guards rescuing prisoners from suicide attempts.

MadisonMan said...

Hey! There's a second page! Much of the reporting on the facts re: Coordination -- such as they are -- is there. Still, the oversight on the part of the guards wasn't happening. The article does, in my opinion, address the issue of suicide because of despair. It wasn't.

The story of the one Dad (He's a 17-year old Charity Worker!) and the Pentagon (He's a 17-year old Terrorist!) are certainly at odds, aren't they?

Michael Farris said...

It doesn't matter _why_ they committed suicide unless you've got an itchy conscience who wants to scratch it.

Holding prisoners with no charges, no trials, no prospect for either and with no time limits is. not. civilized. People who support holding prisoners with no charges, no trials, no prospect for either and with no time limits aren't either.

MMF said...

It appears from BBC reports that one of the three was about to be released. Unfortunately, he was not informed of the fact because it had not yet been determined to what country he should be sent.

Sounds like a truly despairing individual who had no reason to hope for release, and apparently, no reason for being there in the first place.

Doubtful that he is the only detainee that is being kept there inappropriately.

Joe said...

Michael, on what basis are they entitled to trials? They are not POWs, they are not criminal defendants. They are no more than unlawful combatants - terrorists - and entitled to a military tribunal at best. It may soothe your bleeding liberal heart, but giving the full panoply of American constitutional rights to terrorists is not workable. I thought the Moussaoui trial/circus made that clear to everyone.

Michael Farris said...

"They are not POWs, they are not criminal defendants. They are no more than unlawful combatants - terrorists - and entitled to a military tribunal at best."

Then do that with all possible speed.

And, we really don't know what or who they are beyond what the government is choosing to tell us. You may believe everything the government tells you, I don't.

Michael Farris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe said...

We are awaiting a decision on Hamdan before any tribunals begin, I believe. They probably would have started by now but for people like Bill Goodman of the Center for Constitutional Rights, you know, the guy who called Zarqawi a hero the other day.
And I do believe my government over al-qaeda propaganda, whether it is spouted by al jazeera, al reuters or the NY Times.

ganzo azul said...

He said the acts were tied to a "mystical" belief at Guantánamo that three detainees must die at the camp for all the detainees to be released. NYT 6/10/06

Sanjay said...

I don't see why it can't be both despair and master plan.

I guess I don't see where Professor Althouse's idea that the innocent have hope of release is coming from. Sure, the provably innocent probably do -- the administration's apparent desire to have as little oversight as possible makes me queasy but, sure, ya gotta believe that the administration are people who would at least like to try to do the right thing in the absence of other considerations. But I get the feeling a lot of people at Guantanamo are real real suspicious but we don't have much that's concrete, so they're just kind of languishing. I'd love to have that feeling dispelled but investigative efforts get stymied in every which way.

The "conditions are good" thing seems a little horrid. Well, yeah --- but you're in jail. Lots of things, people you can't see, lots of choices you can't make. Not much privacy (and now even less!) I mean, c'mon. Nobody's soup is _that_ good.

R C Dean said...

Holding prisoners with no charges, no trials, no prospect for either and with no time limits is. not. civilized.

But that is exactly how regular POWs are held. A uniformed soldier captured on the field of battle is not charged, is not tried, and is held for the duration of the conflict.

In this regard, at least, the Guantanamo prisoners are no worse off than hundreds of thousands of POWs in recent history.

SteveR said...

I'm sure for the poor Saudi Arabian young man who just happened to find himself trapped between the Northern Alliance, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban in November 2001, the conditions have got to be terrible, especially when your own country refuses to take you back.

Pogo said...

Re: "The "conditions are good" thing seems a little horrid."

Except when viewed comparatively, and how soldiers (and illegal combatants) have historically been dealt with. Summary executions, starvation, and systematic torture (and I don't mean juvenile photographs) have been comon, except in some Western nations of the recent past.

So count me unconcerned how some terrorists feel bad they're stuck on an island off the US coast, instead of killing our young people on the battlefield.

What's more, according to Dr. Khalil Shiqaqi, of the Institute of Palestinian Studies of the Palestinian Authority, "There is an Islamic religious prohibition against suicide," so I guess they are ineligble for the white raisins now. Dang.

MMF said...

Joe said...
We are awaiting a decision on Hamdan before any tribunals begin, I believe. They probably would have started by now but for people like Bill Goodman of the Center for Constitutional Rights, you know, the guy who called Zarqawi a hero the other day.


Joe,
I find that statement by Goodman surprising. I Googled for it, but cannot find any reference, can you please supply a citation so we can read it?
Thanks,
MMF

David said...

r c dean and pogo nailed it. These prisoners are being treated like typical POWs, except that they get much better food, much, much better medical care, religion-appropariate treatment, etc. E.g., the North Vietnamese didn't provide bibles to American POWs nor give kosher food to orthodox Jewish POWs.

Note that the war with the Taliban isn't over. Taliban remnants continue to organize and mount attacks in Iran. If these prisoners were released now, they would likely return to Iran to help kill Iranis as well as Coalition soldiers.

Michael Farris said...

"But that is exactly how regular POWs are held. A uniformed soldier captured on the field of battle is not charged, is not tried, and is held for the duration of the conflict."

Well I keep hearing that the WOT is going to last decades, do you seriously propose holding them until some (very distant) future president finds the WOT is finally over?

I think rather than government infamy we're dealing with at least as much government incompetence/shortsightedness. We've got this thing (the base there) that now almost nobody (except some diehard W fans) seems to like and no way to get rid of it either and it's just going to get messier and nastier before it gets any better.

SteveR said...

Michael, I'm open to suggestions.

(My numbers are approx)
Of the 400, 300 of them cannot be sent home because no one wants (as I understand it). Of the remaning 100, 10 are due for military tribunals and the rest are highly suspect and are in line for that process.

That its taking "forever" is SOP for the federal government under the best of circumstances. This is new ground and every step is scrutinized like the human genome project. Compared to Nuremberg which still took a few years and was quite simple by comparison.

Ann Althouse said...

Sanjay: Of course, it's bad to be imprisoned, but I'm asking: when does imprisonment motivate suicide? Prisoners of war under much worse conditions maintain the will to live. My impression of Guantanamo is that the conditions are unusually good. The issue is whether the men killed themselves in as maneuver against the U.S. or out of the sort of suicidal despair that we usually associate with suicide.

Sanjay said...

But, Professor Althouse, at what point do you decide, screw it, I'm _not_ getting out of here? And, isn't that a not-totally-unreasonable realization to've come to? I mean, an awfully high proportion of Americans (some, I'll grant you, wear tinfoil hats -- but I wear an Akubra) seem to think that that's where these guys are. Nothing in the article makes it sound like they have anything on these guys: they sound like people who probably supported the Taliban in principle at least, and were in the wrong place doing it ... and that's it.

I'm really hating the idea voiced by various commenters, by the way, that somehow the imprisonment conditions need to be seen in context. I think the prisoners could be getting daily rubdowns from supermodels and it's besides the point: one is not kept in detention indefinitely without charge and without a lot of the government having some kind of review of the case. Or so it seems to me, I guess the Supreme Court figures it out soon....

But to return, I guess I don't see why it can't be both. Prisoner is hating limbo, wants to commit suicide. Decides to do it in a way that might help the fellow prisoners, or at least shame the captors publicly, maybe.

As to whether conditions might inspire suicide: c'mon, Professor A! No privacy. No seeing your family or friends. No freedom of movement. I can't believe you're seriously saying, yeah but the food and clothes are good. I mean, it's important that the food and clothes be good, sure. But I think most people would rather by far choose to see their families and to be alone at will but have to eat monkey chow (to pick a current hot topic) over the lobster newburg and the imprisonment-thing, no? Add that these people are probably Islamic fundamentalists unhappy with the US in general and probably raised from infancy with a sense that they are among the Truly Evil --- a terrible thing, something one would like to change, but not a crime --- and, yeah, sure, suicide, why not?

I agree it's not a shut-the-door case that the prisoners are suicidal. But it seems unserious to argue that they really oughtn't to be suicidal because conditions are so freakin' good.

POWs certainly do maintain the will to live, amazingly. And some quite remarkable ones --- think McCain --- also find themselves wishing to die. It's not like the whole population of Guantanamo up and hung themselves.

Sanjay said...

Stupid me. As soon as I put that up I understood what you meant here.

OK: there's suicide, and there's suicide. Prisoners who kill themselves trying to influence something, aren't quite doing the "hopeless suicidal despair" thing we might associate with (say) teenagers. They've got a plan, and suicide is somehow a positive and hopeful, not a negative and self-negating, act for them. It isn't suicidal _despair_.

But it's still reasonable --- this is where I am --- to say, but they prefer death, rationally, to the live they're living, and this act probably required _both_ that, _and_ a "plan." But it's not quite "suicidal despair."

Am I getting you? Because your stance here confuses me otherwise.

Jacques Cuze said...

My impression of Guantanamo is that the conditions are unusually good.

Hmm, on what basis are you qualified to speak as to the conditions of gitmo vs. other pow camps, or to the conditions of gitmo vs. maximum security prisons here, or to the conditions that prisoners are entitled to under the Geneva Conventions?

On what basis are you qualified to speak as to the reasonableness of how or why these prisoners were captured, or being kept imprisoned, or how they feel about anything?

Have you done any research at all into this apart from casual reading of the news?

Just saying, because you never blog about it, except to excuse their torture, and you aren't on the list of professors or lawyers that appear to give a damn.

Say, have you spoken to Professor Hammel? What does he (or she) have to say?

Will you be participating as professor or student at the Guantanamo Teach-In this October?

Would you object to closing gitmo and moving the prisoners to a standard US Federal Maximum Security Prison on US Territory not carved out by the Gitmo exception? If so why?

Freeman Hunt said...

Would you object to closing gitmo and moving the prisoners to a standard US Federal Maximum Security Prison on US Territory not carved out by the Gitmo exception? If so why?

Yes. Because these people are not being held as criminals, they are not American citizens, and they are not even POWs. They should be in detention staffed by military.

Also I see no reason at all to close Gitmo. Why would we close it?

Jon Swift said...

Clearly, this was an unprovoked attack of asymmetrical warfare on our country and I think the only way we can respond is through increasingly self-destructive acts of our own. I'm relieved that although you are a lawyer, you don't seem to be hampered with an exaggerated obedience to the idea of due process. Although some have called Guantanamo "Kafkaesque," I think it's Kafkaesque in a good way.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'll go out on a limb and say we WILL close it, if only to placate our much-needed allies in the international community.

Is there evidence that they need placating?

Elizabeth said...

MMF, I was surprised by that Goodman reference too; Joe, please do find that link.

Jacques Cuze said...

WASHINGTON May 7, 2006 (AP)— President Bush says he would like to close the detention center in Guantanamo in Cuba, but is waiting for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether inmates can face military tribunals.

"Obviously, the Guantanamo issue is a sensitive issue for people," Bush told ARD German television. "I very much would like to end Guantanamo; I very much would like to get people to a court.

"And we're waiting for our Supreme Court to give us a decision as to whether the people need to have a fair trial in a civilian court or in a military court," he said in a transcript released Sunday.

The Bush administration has been criticized for the open-ended detention of people captured in the war on terrorism and for alleged interrogation techniques used at the camp that holds about 500 "enemy combatants" at the facility on the southeast corner of Cuba.

Hundreds of people suspected of ties to al-Qaida and the Taliban including some teenagers have been swept up by the U.S. military and secretly shipped there since 2002.

The Supreme Court case mentioned by Bush was the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who once worked as a driver for Osama bin Laden.

Hamdan has spent nearly four years in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo, and the Supreme Court has been asked to decide if he can be put on trial with fewer legal protections before a type of military tribunal last used in the World War II-era.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide in June whether military tribunals can hear the cases of the detainees.


People like you Freeman Hunt, yes you. You have Bush Derangement Syndrome! Why are you and your ilk opposed to Dear Leader's goals? What are you doing to America when you actively oppose those goals?

Ann, any reaction to Roy?

Freeman Hunt said...

Rather than directing me to sift through "international papers," can someone cite specific evidence that we face specific negative consequences with our allies over Gitmo? What, exactly, would we prevent our allies from doing by closing Gitmo?

chsw10605 said...

The only part of this situation that troubles me is that there is anapparent shortage of rope at Gitmo. How can the ordinary US citizen send this necessity to all of the prisoners?

MMF said...

Joe,
Still hoping for that Goodman reference that you alluded to....

MMF said...

I seriously question whether it can be fairly stated that the conditions at Guantanamo are "unusually good". Certainly the Red Cross seems to find them unacceptable.

WASHINGTON - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has accused the U.S. military of using tactics "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
An ICRC inspection team that spent most of June at Guantanamo Bay reported the use of psychological and sometimes physical coercion on the prisoners, the newspaper said.
It said it had recently obtained a memorandum that quoted the report in detail and listed its major findings.
In Geneva, the ICRC said it would neither confirm nor deny the New York Times report -- in which allegations of treatment tantamount to torture go further than what the neutral intermediary has publicly stated before about inmates held at Guantanamo.
But, in a statement, the Geneva-based ICRC said it remained concerned that "significant problems regarding conditions and treatment at Guantanamo Bay have not yet been adequately addressed," and it was pursuing talks with U.S. authorities.
More than 500 people are being held at the U.S. base in Cuba, detained during the 2001 U.S. war to oust al Qaeda and the ruling Taliban from Afghanistan and in other operations in the U.S. war against terror. The ICRC began visits in early 2002.
The Times said the U.S. government and military officials received the ICRC report in July and rejected its findings.
Asked by the Times about the report, a Pentagon spokesman said in a statement: "The United States operates a safe, humane and professional detention operation at Guantanamo that is providing valuable information in the war on terrorism."
The Times said the Red Cross investigators had found a system devised to break the will of prisoners through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions."
"The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture," the Times quoted the report as saying.
Beatrice Megevand-Roggo, the committee's delegate-general for Europe and the Americas, told the newspaper the ICRC could not comment on the report submitted to the U.S. government.
The ICRC has agreed to keep its findings confidential.
Human rights groups and lawyers have criticized the United States for holding prisoners at the base indefinitely and most without charges or legal representation.
The U.S. government has taken the position that the detainees are "enemy combatants" and not entitled to the protections normally given to prisoners of war.
It has begun a process of holding individual trials, called tribunals, for each prisoner to determine their status.
Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva
© Copyright 2004 Reuters Ltd

Jacques Cuze said...

Ann, are you planning on deleting MMF's comment about the Red Cross' findings of conditions at gitmo?

I mean
a) no linky (http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1130-01.htm),
b) it's quite a long "cut and paste" and we all now how you don't like those.
and
c) it's uh, not really the good news you like to hear.

If you plan on deleting it, would you let me know, so that I can keep that one too at the house of comments that Ann deletes because she's a grown-up that can laugh at her mistakes?

Thank you!

aaron said...

They really were afraid of the impending global warming induced storm, Alberto. It was an easy decision. Being held in Cuba and subject to the horrors of AGW for who knows how long.

LoafingOaf said...

Mary: If you haven't realized it already -- and I think the administration has -- garnering international cooperation is necessary in fighting the worldwide war on terrorism.

Read the international papers and then you tell me if we're going to stand alone on this much longer.


Sometimes when I see people saying that we must constantly be afraid of ticking off people who write for newspapers in other countries, and we're told we have to be worried whether the so-called "intelligentsia" in this or that country is starting to loath us more, I wonder: Do THEY ever worry what I, an American in Ohio, think of THEM? Do Muslim countries worry whether I'm kind of sick of THEIR antics? Does Holland worry that I think lower of them for stripping the citizenship of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who made the film "Submission" with Theo van Gogh, a film about women in Islam that isn't even allowed to be shown in a movie theater in Holland to this day? Does Italy worry that I don't believe Oriana Fallaci should be on trial for merely stating her opinion about Islam? Does London worry that I'm disappointed their media made George Galloway the toast of the town while he's shilling for the worst dictators in the world?

I actually do worry a little bit about what other countries think of America. But isn't it a two-way street? And don't you have to be careful that sometimes so-called "international opinion" (which really just means the opinion of a few major newspapers and the BBC) is wrong? It often strikes me as a pathetic trait of many Americans when they seem to assume that the "intelligentsia" elite of Western Europe are the be-all, end-all of what's right, moral, and just.

And are they even presenting more than one side about Guanatanomo Bay in the European newspapers? I'm concerned that we're expected to put a bit too much trust in the government and what they're doing down there, but I find it impossible to feel sad for three terrorists offing themselves. I'm just glad they weren't able to blow up any children while doing so - the preferred method of suicide in the Islamo-fascist death cult.

MMF said...

LoafingOaf said... but I find it impossible to feel sad for three terrorists offing themselves.

The sad part is that at least one of the three was deemed NOT to be a terrorist nor to present a danger, and was (unbeknown to him)scheduled to be freed.

And when did we become one of the countries the Red Cross had to cite for "treatment tantamount to torture"?

Justin K. said...

Check this out from The Guardian.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/guantanamo/story/0,,1795867,00.html
Far from being some kind of hardcore jihadi, at least one of the three dead prisoners had been ruled harmless by the military and was due to be released (along with 141 other innocents we've been holding). Sadly, he didn't know that when he hung himself. Look, obviously these guys planned to commit suicide together, but to say that this was some kind of "act of war" is ludicrous.

As for the "the food is good, and it's warm there, so they've got it pretty good," argument, you've got to be incredibly morally obtuse to buy that. You could lock me up at Club Med Maui, and after five years of no contact with the outside world, no freedom of movement, no clue as to why I was being held, what would become of me, or if I would ever get out, I might consider hanging myself too. And such an example doesn't even cover the abuses, interrogations, beatings, forcefeedings, and other bad bits of business that have gone on at Gitmo. These guys were dispairing and wanted out, and wanted, yes, to make a statement about their captivity.

That the US is running such a Kafkaesque gulag is a disgrace. If we have real terrorists in custody there (note that none of the Al Qaeda leaders we've captured is at Gitmo) then identify them, charge them, and let the rest go. We're only hurting our cause by running this place.

Ann Althouse said...

Justin: "As for the "the food is good, and it's warm there, so they've got it pretty good," argument, you've got to be incredibly morally obtuse to buy that."

No one is saying that it's acceptable to imprison people as long as you treat them well. Are you saying it's "morally obtuse" to believe that the relatively good conditions make the "despair" theory of suicides less plausible than the deliberate maneuver theory? That doesn't make sense. We're weighing evidence of state of mind. What's "morally obtuse" about rejecting the "despair" theory?

MMF said...

Ann Althouse said...
Are you saying it's "morally obtuse" to believe that the relatively good conditions make the "despair" theory of suicides less plausible than the deliberate maneuver theory?

I guess we have to question the underlying assumption thta there are in fact relatively good conditions there. Certainly the Red Cross has done so. So has the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

MMF said...

Joe,
Any luck on that Goodman reference?

Ann Althouse said...

MMF: I wrote "so I've read." I'm making an assumption based on the sources I've read that seem reliable. What did the Red Cross say other than that there was a psychological effect to being held indefinitely? It seems to me this is the normal situation for a prisoner of war.

MMF said...

Anne:
Here is the part of the NY Times article on the Red Cross report.

November 30, 2004
Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guantánamo
By NEIL A. LEWIS
WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 - The International Committee of the Red Cross has charged in confidential reports to the United States government that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The finding that the handling of prisoners detained and interrogated at Guantánamo amounted to torture came after a visit by a Red Cross inspection team that spent most of last June in Guantánamo.

The team of humanitarian workers, which included experienced medical personnel, also asserted that some doctors and other medical workers at Guantánamo were participating in planning for interrogations, in what the report called "a flagrant violation of medical ethics."

Doctors and medical personnel conveyed information about prisoners' mental health and vulnerabilities to interrogators, the report said, sometimes directly, but usually through a group called the Behavioral Science Consultation Team, or B.S.C.T. The team, known informally as Biscuit, is composed of psychologists and psychological workers who advise the interrogators, the report said.

The United States government, which received the report in July, sharply rejected its charges, administration and military officials said....

The Red Cross has been very circumspect in all its comments, so it is difficult to know for sure, but attorneys for the Tipton Three (the English prisoners released from Guantanamo have made claims of beatings as well.

The Organization of American States (of which the US is a Member)continues to express its concerns as well through "precautionary measures" taken by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

When our government proclaims that it will not be bound by the Geneva Conventions, I think we should all be skeptical of claims that everything is OK at Guantanamo.

Ann Althouse said...

MMF: Yes, I know. I had read that. The name is "Ann," by the way. And I don't think I misstated what the Red Cross said. You think we shouldn't interrogate these prisoners?

Justin K. said...

This may be kind of a late reply Ann, but here goes. Sure, the specifics of treatment make a difference in how prisoners view their confinement. But the most important fact is still the confinement itself. Obviously, as with everything else about this secret prison, there's a lot we don't know. But here's what we do know.
1. Many of the prisoners at Gitmo are not terrorists, as evidenced by the hundreds who have been released, so we can't assume all of these guys are jihadis.
2. One of the dead was, according the military's own judgement, safe to be released.
3. While jihadi interpretations of the Koran glorify martyrdom in pursuit of jihad (hence the justification of suicide bombing) the Koran strictly forbids suicide, and there is no tradition of using the slaying of just oneself as an act of holy war. To say that these guys were committing an act of jihad by hanging themselves doesn't accord with any known jihadi tactic.
4. Suicide is a common thing in even the most humane prisons, and gitmo has seen numerous prior attempts. When even prisoners who get due process and know when they're getting out attempt suicide, is it a real stretch to think prisoners trapped in a limbo like gitmo would try to off themselves?

The despair explanation may seem implausible to you Ann, but, for the reasons given above, it's a hell of a lot more plausible than the idea that this was some kind of act of war. I call this position morally obtuse because it ignores obivious facts about gitmo and what imprisonment does to a person in favor of implausible tales designed to relieve the government and its supporters of responsibility. What would you call it?

PatCA said...

Here's the Goodman reference:
Goodman on Gitmo

The highly anti-American International Red Cross has an office at Gitmo and had no complaints when Fox News visited there recently and asked them.

As to state of mind, most of us find the act of war theory credible, in that three simultaneous suicides occurred on the eve of a press visit; the prisoners subscribe to an ethos that encourages suicide as a tactic; and there is no evidence whatsoever except declarations by their partisan lawyers that this was caused by 'despair'.

Ann Althouse said...

Justin: How do you account for 3 suicides done simultaneously? There are also the reports of a mystical belief that 3 deaths would cause the prison to be closed.

Righteous Bubba said...

How do you account for 3 suicides done simultaneously?

How do you account for any suicide pact? Seems like the majority of people who do that are unhappy and disturbed.

Ann Althouse said...

Bubba: That's not much of a link! It hardly shows coordinated suicides are done out of despair. I think they sometimes involve a leader who entices a weaker person (something like a murder-suicide). Sometimes they are intended as an act of great hostility, as when young lovers kill themselves when parents won't let them marry.

You act like whipping out the phrase "suicide pact" is making an argument. And you link to a Google search for the term. Pretty lame!

Righteous Bubba said...

Ann, you feel free to swallow the vicious and vile at first blush. The link was to show that suicide pacts aren't novel or uncommon or generally seen as acts of war: use your head. (Unless they make the government look bad of course, in which case you can borrow someone else's head, maybe from Fox or something.)

Ann Althouse said...

Bubba: Yeah, I see the terrorists using suicide all the time. That affects my interpretation here a lot.

MMF said...

Thanks, PatCA, but Joe's comment above said that Goodman had called ZARQAWI a hero.

Here, Goodman is quoted as saying that the three dead Guantanamo detainees were "heroes for those of us who believe in basic American values of justice, fairness and democracy".

Now, withholding judgment on the sagacity of the statement, I think we can all agree that it is far from calling ZARQAWI a hero. Of the three detainees, one was adjudged to be not a danger to the U.S., the other two had not been tried or indeed, even charged. ZARQAWI was a stone cold killer and the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

I would be interested in seeing proof that Goodman made the statement that Joe claims was made. Or maybe Joe should retract his allegation.

The niceties of public debate, IMHO, require that we refrain from painting an exaggeratedly negative portrait of those with whom we disagree.

MMF said...

Ann:
Sorry about that extra ‘e’. I hate when people get my name wrong, and yours was right there in front of me!

You say that you are going by sources that you find reliable.

It’s not clear to me from that post whether or not you find the International Red Cross and/or the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to be reliable. I find them more credible than the administration’s assertions that everything there is peachy.

If you accept them as reliable reporters (to the extent that any reporting on a situation the administration wants to control access to can be deemed reliable), then physical coercion tantamount to torture is occurring at Gitmo.

I have no problem with interrogating the prisoners, but I do object to physically coercive interrogation, since such action is in conflict with the third Geneva Convention.

Furthermore, I don’t think there is any consensus among military professionals that torture is an efficient or effective way to get useful information from a prisoner.

This Washington Post column quoting an interview w/ Army Colonel Stuart Herrington is illustrative:
“Army Col. Stuart Herrington, a military intelligence specialist who conducted interrogations in Vietnam, Panama and Iraq during Desert Storm, and who was sent by the Pentagon in 2003 -- long before Abu Ghraib -- to assess interrogations in Iraq. Aside from its immorality and its illegality, says Herrington, torture is simply "not a good way to get information." In his experience, nine out of 10 people can be persuaded to talk with no "stress methods" at all, let alone cruel and unusual ones. Asked whether that would be true of religiously motivated fanatics, he says that the "batting average" might be lower: "perhaps six out of ten." And if you beat up the remaining four? "They'll just tell you anything to get you to stop."
Worse, you'll have the other side effects of torture. It "endangers our soldiers on the battlefield by encouraging reciprocity." It does "damage to our country's image" and undermines our credibility in Iraq. That, in the long run, outweighs any theoretical benefit. Herrington's confidential Pentagon report, which he won't discuss but which was leaked to The Post a month ago, goes farther. In that document, he warned that members of an elite military and CIA task force were abusing detainees in Iraq, that their activities could be "making gratuitous enemies" and that prisoner abuse "is counterproductive to the Coalition's efforts to win the cooperation of the Iraqi citizenry." Far from rescuing Americans, in other words, the use of "special methods" might help explain why the war is going so badly.
An up-to-date illustration of the colonel's point appeared in recently released FBI documents from the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. These show, among other things, that some military intelligence officers wanted to use harsher interrogation methods than the FBI did. As a result, complained one inspector, "every time the FBI established a rapport with a detainee, the military would step in and the detainee would stop being cooperative." So much for the utility of torture.”

Ann Althouse said...

MMF: Maybe I'm missing something in your long comments. But you have a lot of what looks like irrelevant material at the end about physical torture. The Red Cross seems to have reported only the psychological "torture" of being held indefinitely. But prisoners of war are properly held indefinitely. And we are interrogating them. State concisely and clearly what the problem is!

MMF said...

Ann Althouse said...
MMF: Maybe I'm missing something in your long comments. But you have a lot of what looks like irrelevant material at the end about physical torture.
The Red Cross seems to have reported only the psychological "torture" of being held indefinitely.
>>The Red Cross also refers to physical coercion tantamount to torture.

But prisoners of war are properly held indefinitely.
>>>And at least one of these guys was not a prisoner of war. At least 100 other detainees have been released over the past few years, they were also not enemy combatants or terrorists.(and I just have to add that while POW's are generally held until the end of an armed conflict, there will be no VT day in the war on terror. As long as any angry/ crazy/ brutal non-state actors are in conflict with the west, there will be a war on terror, so the detainees would be imprisoned permanently.)
And we are interrogating them. State concisely and clearly what the problem is!
>>>And if you are going to interrogate, it should be both legal and productive. The Geneva Convention is being ignored. It’s questionable how effective torture is in getting good info from prisoners, even if it were not morally unacceptable and against international law.

Ann Althouse said...

MMF: You've tried to weave around my very direct questions. I can only restate the previous post. What "torture" are you talking about? I don't appreciate your attempt at sleight of hand here. It's quite clumsy anyway. Write directly and clearly and concisely. Otherwise, you're wasting our time and undermining your own credibility.

PatCA said...

I don't know if Goodman called Z a hero; this is the only reference I could find. It does go to the weight of Goodman's allegations that 'despair' at our poor treatment rather than their own political strategy motivated the suicides.

Sorry, MMF, Ann wins. YOur side has no evidence, only high minded propaganda... er, rhetoric.

MMF said...

The Red Cross says that the US is using "physical coercion" which it has described as "tantamount to torture".
I think that's as simple and direct as I can make it.

Ann Althouse said...

I saw that the International Red Cross used that language back in 2004, to refer to temperature extremes and loud noise, and that the U.S. responded to the criticism by saying it would work on improving conditions. Do you have something more relevant?

Ann Althouse said...

A LEXIS search for "red cross and physical coercion and guantanamo" in the NYT produces nothing since 2004.

MMF said...

Well, since the old info from the Red Cross is the last thing that was leaked to the public, and since Rumsfeld has now expelled all reporters from the base, we are not likely to learn much more any time soon.

I suppose we could simply take the administration's statement that they would "work on immproving conditions" on faith.

I guess I just can't conjure up the credulousness such an act of faith would require.

Ann Althouse said...

So you admit you've got nothing except your suspicions, which you push us to share. The Red Cross has ongoing access to Guantanamo. The decent reasons for excluding the press are obvious.

PatCA said...

MMF,
International media visit there often. As of 2005, over 400 times. The FBI and IRC are there ALL THE TIME, not occasionally. There is nothing to report. Even if we closed Gitmo, they would be housed elsewhere, perhaps in the ME, which would be even harder for men such as Goodman to follow.

MMF said...

Well, to be fair, they’re not really MY suspicions, but concerns shared by numerous credible organizations as well as other nations (including our allies).

I concede that none of us can really know what is going on there.

The Red Cross has a policy of keeping reports on prisons between itself and the detaining entity.

Now, not satisfied with the severe restrictions already imposed on the press, the administration has booted reporters off the island.So we have even less opportunity to find out what's going on.

An unequivocal U.S. commitment to abide by Geneva Convention protections for all detainees would also help alleviate concerns.

Until then I think a healthy skepticism of the entire Guantanamo situation is warranted.

Ann Althouse said...

I agree that we should be skeptical and critical, but goes for the things you say too. And it's quite evident that you started off here overextending yourself.

MMF said...

I just re-read all my comments and have to say I don't think I said anything in them that could be described as as "overextending myself".
I agree some of the posts might have been too lengthy since I included alot of quotes that were quite long.
Could you please direct me to a specific position I took that was unsupported?

zeitgeistgirl said...

Ann you say Gitmo is in 'unusually good' condition. Whens the last time you were injected with pyschotropic drugs against your will and found them to be 'unusually good'?

http://www.cageprisoners.com/articles.php?id=14721