Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Oh, God

What are we doing?

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The U.S. military said 23 Guantanamo Bay terror suspects carried out a coordinated effort to hang or strangle themselves in 2003 during a week-long protest in the secretive camp in Cuba.

The military, which had not previously reported the protest, called the actions "self-injurious behavior" aimed at getting attention rather than serious suicide attempts.

The coordinated attempts were among 350 "self-harm" incidents that year, including 120 so-called "hanging gestures," Lt. Col. Leon Sumpter, a spokesman for the detention mission, said Monday.

In the Aug. 18-26, 2003, protest, nearly two dozen prisoners tried to hang or strangle themselves with clothing and other items in their cells, demonstrating "self-injurious behavior," the U.S. Southern Command in Miami said in a statement. Ten detainees made a mass attempt on Aug. 22 alone.

Last year, there were 110 self-harm incidents, Sumpter said.


"When you have suicide attempts or so-called self-harm incidents, it shows the type of impact indefinite detention can have, but it also points to the extreme measures the Pentagon (news - web sites) is taking to cover up things that have happened in Guantanamo," said Alistair Hodgett, a spokesman for Amnesty International in Washington, D.C.


The latest report comes against a backdrop of recently revealed abuse allegations and mistreatment at Guantanamo Bay, much of which allegedly occurred under Miller.

In a letter obtained by AP, a senior Justice Department (news - web sites) official suggested the Pentagon didn't act on FBI (news - web sites) complaints about four incidents at Guantanamo: a female interrogator grabbing a detainee's genitals and bending back his thumbs; a prisoner who was gagged with duct tape; and two incidents involving the same man — a dog being used to intimidate him and later putting the man in isolation until he showed signs of "extreme psychological trauma."

In other information about alleged abuses, the American Civil Liberties Union (news - web sites) said Monday that Navy e-mails dated August 2003 — the month of the mass protest — asked what should be done if a detainee dies.

"Personally, I suspect that remains should probably NOT be brought to the U.S. for legal reasons," says the response.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God: have mercy on me for the things that are done in my name...


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