New Seton Hall Report on DOD Guantanamo Deaths Investigation

Seton Hall Law School's Center for Policy and Research has issued a new report responding to the Defense Department's latest attempt to justify its investigation into the 2006 deaths of three detainees at Guantanamo. The full report, DOD Contradicts DOD, is available here.

The Center for Policy and Research Report shows that each of the cell block guards on duty that night gave two statements, and the first statement for each is missing. The only statements from the guards in the NCIS report were made only after those guards had been threatened with prosecution because of the contents of their previous—and now missing—statements.


Not only are the Alpha Block Guards first statements missing, but the Center for Policy & Research discovered that all of the contemporaneous statements from every person on duty that night are missing. Professor Denbeaux said: “Everyone on duty that night, in addition the Alpha Block guards, was ordered to write sworn statements as soon as the detainees were declared dead. And every one of those statements is missing.”

By way of background, Yassar Talal Al Zahrani, Mani Shaman Turki Al Habardi Al Tabi, and Ali Abdullah Ahmed, were found dead while detained on Alpha Block in Camp 1 at Guantanamo. Within hours, the military announced that their deaths were suicides -- acts of “asymmetrical warfare” against the United States.

The Center's first report, Death in Camp Delta, analyzed the official investigation into the June 9-10, 2006 deaths of three detainees at Guantanamo Bay. (Background here.)

Harper's Magazine then investigated and suggested the deaths were homicides rather than suicides.(background here.)

The Defense Department provided additional information in response to the Harper's article, and it is those responses that lead to the latest Seton Hall report.

Unfortunately, this response, like the initial investigation itself, is disturbingly flawed. While the response confirms at least some of Seton Hall’s criticisms of the earlier investigation in the course of providing new information, it also contradicts factual claims in its own investigation, raising new questions as to whether the DOD can be trusted to investigate its own conduct.

Among the new Seton Hall findings:

  • DOD now asserts only one detainee had a rag in his throat at the time of death, but the NCIS investigation shows all three had rags in their throats.
  • DOD asserts that more than 100 interviews were conducted during the first three days of the investigation; however, only 24 personnel were interviewed on June 10 and none on June 11, 12, and 13. No more than 45 individuals were interviewed during the entire investigation.
  • DOD now asserts that NCIS reviewed all available video footage, and found nothing of evidentiary value. The record shows NCIS had a videotape of the events. Since either activity in the camp or lack of activity would be relevant to the conflicting claims, it is implausible that there is nothing of evidentiary value on the tape.
  • DOD now asserts that the detainees hanged themselves while lights were dimmed. The Admiral concluded the detainees hanged themselves with the lights on. The DOD does not explain this discrepancy.

In addition:

The centerpiece of the DOD’s response is the assertion that over 100 interviews were conducted within the first three days. This assertion ignores that all of the guards on the block that night gave prior statements that NCIS considered false. All of those prior false statements are still missing. Additionally, most of the statements either refute or do not corroborate the NCIS findings.

The Seton Hall report calls for a new investigation into the June, 2006 detainee deaths.

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  • Display: Sort:
    My God... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by desertswine on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 02:25:14 PM EST
    This is a horror story worthy of the worst of the despots.

    Rags in throats and (none / 0) (#1)
    by MKS on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 01:09:24 PM EST
    an avalanche of false statements.....

    This is worse than the autopsy records after JFK's death....

    I give the Seton Hall... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 01:15:53 PM EST
    Law School Center for Policy and Research a lot of credit...I'd be scared to start my car after digging into this mess.

    And what is the current occupant of the WH (none / 0) (#4)
    by Lora on Sat Feb 06, 2010 at 11:10:40 AM EST
    ,,,going to do about it?