23 Previously Unreported Attempted Suciides at Guantanamo in 2003

The Government has disclosed that during a 2003 mass protest at Guantanamo, 23 detainees attempted sucide. The Government did not advise the media of these attempts when disclosing past incidences:

The incidents came during the same year the camp suffered a rash of suicide attempts after Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller took command of the prison with a mandate to get more information from prisoners accused of links to al-Qaida or the ousted Afghan Taliban regime that sheltered it.

Between Aug. 18 and Aug. 26, the 23 detainees tried to hang or strangle themselves with pieces of 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.

The military had this explanation today:

U.S. Southern Command described it as "a coordinated effort to disrupt camp operations and challenge a new group of security guards from the just-completed unit rotation."

How can prisoners be disruptive when they're dead? Alistair Hodgett of Amnesty International had this response:

"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 is taking to cover up things that have happened in Guantanamo," he said.

"What we've seen is that it wasn't simply a rotation of forces but an attempt to toughen up the interrogation techniques and processes."

Today the military provides these numbers:

In 2003, there were 350 "self-harm" incidents, including 120 "hanging gestures," according to Lt. Col. Leon Sumpter, a spokesman for the detention mission. Last year, there were 110 self-harm incidents, he said.

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  • OK, usually stories like this one raise all kinds of questions. This time, I can only think of one: How did Maj. Gen. Miller implement his "mandate to get more information"?

    et al - Attempted? Who kept'em from being successful? I mean if we hated them so much.

    Re: 23 Previously Unreported Attempted Suciides at (none / 0) (#3)
    by Darryl Pearce on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 04:53:36 PM EST
    It's a corrupt relationship we have over our detainees.

    They never had it so good, right, Jim?

    CA - Absolutely. Here is a link that matches my thoughts very well. Link

    Re: 23 Previously Unreported Attempted Suciides at (none / 0) (#6)
    by Richard Aubrey on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 07:57:07 PM EST
    Some years ago, some IRA hard guys in Long Kesh went on a hunger strike. The purpose was to embarrass the Thatcher government. The motivation from the IRA leadership to the terrorists was, starve yourself to death and we won't kill your families. Some actually did. I don't recall how many--not a lot--but I do recall the wailing activists blaming Margaret Thatcher for entirely avoidable (said the IRA mouthpieces) deaths. Of course, it only works if your audience is made up of idiots. Sounds to me like the embarrassment card is being played here. It remains to be seen how many idiots are in the supposed audience.

    Re: 23 Previously Unreported Attempted Suciides at (none / 0) (#7)
    by ras on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 08:06:37 PM EST
    On the plus side, when they succeed in these suicide attempts, at least they succeed alone.

    Re: 23 Previously Unreported Attempted Suciides at (none / 0) (#8)
    by Darryl Pearce on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 09:28:05 PM EST
    How many leaders, both famous and infamous, honed their logic and philosophies on the grist and mill of prison? What nascent messiah or trickster is sharpening their wit and wisdom on the crucible of Guantanamo? Better to kill them outright on the field of battle (or under the sights of a Predator drone) than to continue this abominable relationship that forces us, as a country and a people, to forsake our values, sacrificing our humanity, compassion and grace in a desire to squeeze pain and anguish and blood from our perceived enemies. I stand against it. I vote against it.

    TalkLeft - Why do you tolerate a despicable torture apologist such as "Poker Player (aka Jim)", on your site?

    Greg, the commenting policy is clearly stated on the front page of TalkLeft. I may disagree with Jim on issues, but he hasn't violated the commenting rules. I don't consider him a troll because he doesn't repeat himself incessantly, mock TalkLeft or its supporters and he mostly stays on topic. That's why he isn't limited to four comments a day like some other posters with opposing viewpoints. He is a frequent donor to TalkLeft, which helps as well. In other words, he pays for his bandwidth.

    Read Greg - If you read the link you saw that it specified that interrogation should be done by trained people, and must follow both US law and those portions of the International Convention Against Terror - ICAT - which the US has signed. I don't think I need to apologoize for a position that says we should follow the law. As for CA's comment, he throws that one out every chance he gets. It refers to a comment I made regarding treatment of prisioners immediately after capture, not after they were imprisoned. In that context, and looking at historical treatment of guerillias by the troops that captured them, I stand by my statement. And if you had been paying attention, I condemed the treatment some of the prisoners received in prison, and said we should investigate, charge, try, and if convicted, punish all involved. Again I don't think I need to apologize for a position that says we should follow the law. I also commented in one thread that ICAT too loosely defined some terms, and needed to be tightened to pervent some rogue state from doing what they pleased. Do you have a problem with making laws better? I have also had the utter gall to note that although the GC does not cover this group, it is time to review the GC and provided changes for the type of war that we now, and mostly likley will in the future, fight. So Read Greg, I suggest you follow your moniker before you make inaccurate statements. It would certainly improve you image. I suspect your real problem is that you think strip searching prisoners, making them wear panties on their heads, and sundry activities, i.e. embarassing them as part of interrogation procedures is torture. I don't. And I think the majority of the American people don't. And to use that well known phrase. Sorry about that.

    We signed the Geneva Conventions and agreed to the following: # (Art 17): "No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind." # (Art 25): "Prisoners of war shall be quartered under conditions as favourable as those for the forces of the Detaining Power who are billeted in the same area." (Art 89): Provides for fines, discontinuance of privileges above those required by the Convention, fatigue duties up to two hours per day and confinement. "In no case shall disciplinary punishments be inhuman, brutal or dangerous to the health of prisoners of war."

    The right-wingers and apologists will argue (incorrectly, I believe) that these people are not prisoners of war, so not covered by these articles. They will also claim (correctly, I think in at least some of the cases of the detainees) that they are not civilians. The right wingers are arguing for creation of a third category of person involved in terrorism. The problem with that argument is that the third category is really well covered by criminal statutes. So if the detainees are criminals, violators of terrorism statutes, bring them up on the charges. The failure to either treat the detainees as civilians, prisoners of war, or criminals leads to the establishment of a US police state and the American gulags. We have adopted the Soviet model. Yikes.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Unlawful combatant (also illegal combatant or unprivileged combatant) describes a person who engages in combat without meeting the requirements for a lawful belligerent according to the laws of war as specified in the Third Geneva Convention. Countries that identify such unlawful combatants may not necessarily accord them the rights of prisoners of war described in the Third Geneva Convention, though they retain rights under the Fourth Geneva Convention in that they must be "treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial". The term has been around for at least 100 years and has been used in legal literature, military manuals and case law. It was introduced into US domestic law in 1942 by a United States Supreme Court decision in the case ex parte Quirin (http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=317&invol=1). In this case, the Supreme Court upheld the jurisdiction of a U.S. military tribunal over the trial of several German saboteurs in the US. This decision states (emphasis added and footnotes removed):

    Re; Richard Aubrey While his spin on the Irish hunger striker is very odd. My impession is that Aubrey is either joking or person a who simply cannot stand what he knows happened. He does, in his pain , bring up a point that must always be kept in mind if we are at all to understand what is happening in the detention camps. The reports of torture,of sexual abuse, of resistence, of death, of corruption coming out ofthe detentions camps in Cuba and Iraq are the same as those that have been coming out of ordinary prisons in the US and Great Britian , among many other places, for decades and not restricted to political prisoners. ( The irish hunger strikers were striking for political status which would give them some protection from abuse) Discussing conditons in detention camps out of the context moves everthing into a never never land. At the begining of the abuse scandals people working for prison reform hoped that the shock and horror would work to discredit the abuse , including sexual abuse of inmates in normal prisons. " You see, I told you it was wrong ." But the in fact the scandal seemed to have the opposite effect and have lead to a moritorium on discussing of how really ordinary abuse is, as if that would somehow dilute the horror of what is going on in Cuba and Iraq.

    Re: 23 Previously Unreported Attempted Suciides at (none / 0) (#16)
    by kdog on Tue Jan 25, 2005 at 08:31:25 AM EST
    Not for nothing, but aren't there loads of suicide attempts in all types of prisons. Why would Guantanamo be any different? Don't get me wrong, anytime a human being is detained without a hearing it is wrong and unjust, and I despise how we have treated prisoners, but this shouldn't surprise anyone.

    CA - In my opinion they aren't POW's, and with certain exceptions they have been treated humanely. As noted, the differences rest mainly on what I see as torture, and what you see as torture. No need to go there again, we both know each other's positions. I do find it ironic that those supporting the prisoners, or perhaps wanting different treatment is a better expression, do not want to clean up the ITCAT and redo the GC so that we have no confusion. Could it be that your concern is merely to have something to complain about rather than fixing it?

    PPJ: While I don't hate you personally, I do hate your commenting self. You have every right to sit in your warm, comfortable house and decide what is torture and what isn't. I am very surprised that you would become so two-faced and hypocritical when faced with anger and criticism. Your true position, based on a number of interchanges we've had on this subject is, as you said,
    I suspect your real problem is that you think strip searching prisoners, making them wear panties on their heads, and sundry activities, i.e. embarassing them as part of interrogation procedures is torture. I don't. And I think the majority of the American people don't.
    Well, your entitled to your opinion, which I strongly believe would change given the actual experiences you so tritely mention (e.g. "Sundry activities"). However, KNOWING that, if the government decided to take me off the streets today, stash me outside the country without family notification or access to a lawyer, or even charges, you would be talking about me the way you talk about the assortment of humanity you deem deserving of these "sundry activities" So, for all the mentally and physically broken, despairing, hopeless souls in government custody being TORTURED (Yes, PPJ, TORTURED- you don't get to define the word in your small, small brain) I issue you a resounding F*** YOU!!!

    mfox writes - "However, KNOWING that, if the government decided to take me off the streets today,...." No. I have commented numerous times that American citizens should be treated differently than non-citizens. Citizens should receive the full protection of US law, non-citizens should not. i.e. Non-citizens should be tried by a military tribunal. I have also noted that because the sin of the citizens is worse than the non-citizen, the citizen should, if convicted, be hanged. Those comments are in various links within the archives. As to defining torture, I will leave that to the dictionary and other legal experts. As I have commented until I grow weary, abuse is not torture, although my opinion is that anything done to these people is torture by your definitions And you ignore my comment that they should be treated within the law. So these, sundry activities that I referred to are just that. Within the law. Pity that you seem unable to logically connect the two. Perhaps the venom in your brain has clouded it. As to those poor pitiful souls, if they have been tortured I urge action against those that did. If they have been broken by legal interrogation methods I am sad that they did things that got them where they are, but bad decisions lead to bad results. So enjoy your rant, and the vulgar attack. You made it based on pure emotion driven by incomplete information and a general lack of knowledge of my position. As you do, I ask again. Do you agree with my comments that ICAT should be clairified and the GC changed to cover this type of war? DA - I understand that you are thoroughly anti-Bush. But what does that have to do with supporting clarification of the ICAT and changing the GC? I have posted this position several times, and met with nothing but resistance. et al - BTW - I do not make the comments re ICAT and GC because I think the changes will protect our troops if captured. That would be foolish dream because the murders and torturers we are dealing with much prefer to saw off heads while shouting "God is great!" No, I do it so that those have the difficult job of handling these prisoners have a better definition of what can and can not be done, and will be better able to police themselves if some of them start to let emotion overcome judgement.

    Re: 23 Previously Unreported Attempted Suciides at (none / 0) (#21)
    by john horse on Tue Jan 25, 2005 at 02:41:26 PM EST
    As cartoonist Tom Tomorrow points out, conservatives were at first against torture, but unfortunate revelations have forced a more nuanced stance (in order to view cartoon on Salon, click on Free Day Pass and endure the commercial). The rising number of suicides are Guantanamo were one of the first indicators that the US was engaging in torture. About the time time that these suicides were occurring, the Bush administration was changing the longstanding US opposition to torture. One indication of this was the opposition of the Bush administration to paying compensation to those American POWs who were tortured by the Iraqis during the first Gulf War. Their attempt to get this lawsuit dropped at least shows some consistency. Its ok for the US to torture our POWS and its ok for other countries to torture American POWS.

    DA - Okay, if you are waiting on them, why all the complaints about torture since you (seem to) know they are not going to change things? BTW - I note the absense of any positive comment from mfox, CA, etc. This leads me to believe that it is just a talking point with them, not an issue they care about.

    No, just been working way too many hours to want to spend much time here when not drafting legal documents for a living. Tired tonight, going to bed. God bless one and all.