Gitmo suicides: "an act of asymettrical warfare against us" - previous orchestrated suicide attempt lured soldiers into "kill zone"
US soldiers live under threat of death in Gitmo while terrorists receive better food and health care to enable them to live longer
MIM: Media, legal support, and Amnesty International call for closure of Gitmo emboldened martyr wannabes
MIM: The suicides at Gitmo were the third part of a multi pronged assault which began with hunger strikes, that elicted outrage from the media and terrorist lawyers ,and Amnesty International (which works together with radical Islamist groups such as CAIR), who never mentioned the fact that the hunger striking prisoners were in Gitmo because the had been intending to die for their cause in attacks on Americans and coalition forces and considered anything they did to hasten their demise would have made them 'martyrs' at Gitmo.
Navy Admiral Harris B. Harris Jr. who is in charge of the Gitmo task force explained that the suicides;
" were acts of "asymmetrical warfare" and linked to a "mystical" belief at the camp that it would take the deaths of three detainees for the rest to go free..." http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2006-06-11T040645Z_01_N10232278_RTRUKOC_0_US-SECURITY-GUANTANAMO.xml
Emboldened by their public relations sucess of their prior hunger strike thanks to Amnesty International and their lawyers - the martyr wannabes at Gitmo orchestrated a phony suicide attempt. This now appears to have been a diversionary tactic in preparation for the real thing, anticipating that soldiers would react with scepticism the next time someone claimed their was a suicide attempt. Several weeks before a prisoner reported that someone was trying to hang themselves, and soldiers who went to investigate and found that they had been lured into an area that had been made slippery with with urine and feces where they were attacked and fought back.
MIM: The riot generated even more cries for Gitmo to be closed, while the media 'neglected' to report that it had been an act of Jihad by terrorists. The lawyers (most of whom had voluntered to help inmates at Gitmo) had already crossed the line from advocacy into activism before coming to Gitmo. They spread their clients atrocity stories as fact and encouraged their 'clients' to provoke confrontations in order to claim they were being mistreated. The U.S. government should look into taking legal action against the lawyers for aiding and abetting terrorists and spreading deliberating sabotaging the war effort by spreading enemy atrocity propaganda. An example of the distortion can be seen in this except from a response written by' Navy Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which is responsible for detainee operations and intelligence gathering at the camp':
MIM: .The terrorists, who were in Gitmo because they had hoped to become martyrs for Allah, realised that their suicides by hanging would be as effective pysops as setting off bombs and generate calls for Gitmo's closure, prompting the head of Gitmo to rightly label their deaths as "an act of warfare".
Three Guantanamo Terror Suspects Commit Suicide
June 11 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Three detainees - two Saudis and a Yemeni - fashioned crude nooses out of bed sheets and hung themselves early Saturday evening at Camp 1, the base's maximum security unit.
"They hung themselves with fabricated nooses made out of clothes and bed sheets," said Navy spokesman Rear Adm. Harry Harris who stated that one of the prisoners was a mid to high level al-Qaeda operative, one was captured in Afghanistan and had participated in a prison riot there and the third was affiliated with a non al-Qaeda terror group.
All three of the detainees had participated in an ongoing hunger strike at the facility, a protest which had recently waned with fewer than 20 current participants and the remainder of a group once numbering 131, eating again on their own.
Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights - slammed the administration with AI stating, "[the suicides] are the tragic results of years of arbitrary and indefinite detention."
A UN panel - without having even visited the detention center - on May 19, declared that it facilitated torture and demanded its closure.
MIM:This report shows how the human rights groups try to spin the suicides as "an act of despair" rather then a calculated Jihad 'suicide mission'.
Gitmo suicides an "act of war"
Three foreign prisoners were found dead on Saturday after hanging themselves with clothing and bedsheets in the first deaths at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since the prison opened in January 2002, US defence officials said.
The military said two Saudis and one Yemeni were found unresponsive and not breathing in their cells by guards and attempts to resuscitate the detainees failed.
They were pronounced dead by a doctor at Guantanamo, which holds just under 500 foreigners, including Australian David Hicks, captured mainly in the US war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
The suicides threw a fresh spotlight on the camp that has drawn widespread criticism against the Bush administration from foreign countries, including some allies, and human rights advocates.
Navy Rear Admiral Harry Harris, commander of Guantanamo, told a news conference the suicides were an act of warfare.
"They are smart, they are creative, they are committed," Harris said.
"They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."
Facing indefinite detention with none of the rights afforded formal prisoners of war or criminal suspects in the US justice system, dozens of the detainees at the prison have undertaken hunger strikes and attempted suicide.
Guantanamo has been one of a string of issues that have undermined support abroad for Washington's war on terrorism, declared after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. The deaths come as President George Bush faces growing public doubt about the war in Iraq.
The US military said the bodies were being treated "with the utmost respect". An investigation has begun, it said.
A White House spokesman said Bush expressed serious concern on Saturday when he was told about the three suicides.
Spokesman Tony Snow said Bush, who is at Camp David this weekend, was told of the deaths by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
"He expressed serious concern," Snow said, adding that US officials made a round of telephone calls to notify American allies abroad.
Bush has said he would like to close the detention centre and spoke of Guantanamo yesterday at a joint news conference with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who raised concerns about it with the US president.
"We'd like it to be empty," Bush said. "And we're now in the process of working with countries to repatriate people."
Ken Roth, head of Human Rights Watch in New York, said the suicides at Guantanamo likely were driven by despair.
"Sadly suicides like these are entirely predictable when people are held outside the law with no end in sight," he told Reuters.
"They despair of spending the rest of their lives detained at the whim of their jailer with no sense of when it would end."
By Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu
"These were the ones who have been behaving themselves." That's the description many officers and non-coms at the Joint Task Force – Guantanamo gave of the detainees held in Camp IV, a sub-unit of the Camp Delta detention compound, during my recent visit to the facility. While ultra-modern Camp V is a maximum security facility based on the US Federal system, and Camps I, II, and III are composed on individual confinement cells, Camp IV is unique. It is a medium-security facility permitting communal living. Camp IV is designed to be a key component of a rewards and incentives program intended to encourage compliance among the detainee population.
Unlike the individual cells characteristic of the other camps, inside the wire at Camp IV detainees live in 10-man bays in 40-man blocks. They are free to eat together or pray together if they choose. They sleep in a communal bay, have virtually unlimited outside recreation time that they share with another 10-man bay, and can communicate among themselves and with the scores of other detainees living in adjourning bays and blocks in Camp IV. They have access to a brand new basketball goal with a concrete court, an enclosed soccer field, chess and checker boards, playing cards, and access to library books. Of course, they receive the entire religious support package composed of Koran, cap, oil, beads, and rug. At any given time upwards to 200 detainees live in Camp IV.
Of the original 800-plus enemy combatants who were transported to Guantanamo, in the turbulent, post Operation Enduring Freedom days from Afghanistan, fewer than 490 now are being held. Where are the rest? Transferred mostly, to their countries of origin. Many have been returned to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, France, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Germany among other countries. Some, like the Uighers, Chinese nationals but Islamic fundamentalist terrorists-in-training pledged to fight the Peoples Republic, were not returned to China. U.S. policy is not to return detainees to countries that might torture or execute them. So they remain at Guantanamo under benign conditions or get transferred to third countries. A week or so ago five Uighers were transferred to Albania which agreed to accept them. The Chinese are protesting and want them back on terrorism charges.
Other countries do take their nationals. Saudi is preparing to receive a group of 15 who were feted prior to departure on Wednesday, May 17. There was a celebration in the camp that night, agreed to well in advance by authorities. The entire camp had a lavish dinner menu consisting of curried chicken, brown rice, salad, ice cream, chocolate cake, baklava, and fruit. Detainees could eat all they wanted. Feasting lasted well into the night.
On Thursday in Camp I a disturbing incident occurred. Camp I is a made up of individual cells, separated by wire mesh so that detainees can converse and see each other, and to promote ventilation. Such a configuration also allows the detainees to pass small items between cells. Items like pills. At 7:00 am a detainee was discovered unconscious in his cell. After initial evaluation at the dispensary he was rushed to the main base hospital for treatment. Pharmaceutical drug overdose was suspected. Shortly thereafter two other cases of apparent or suspected drug overdose were discovered, one from Camp I another from Camp V. All three were evacuated to the hospital and placed under emergency care and suicide watch. Within the overall Camp Delta the three apparent suicide attempts triggered red flags.
Among the various departments – interrogation, detention, medical, and the command group – the alert was passed that something suspicious was happening. Everyone was alert that this was just the first of a calculated series of disturbances. Despite the fact that Camp IV contains the most compliant detainees - those who have demonstrated that they willingly comply with guards' orders - command suspicion focused there. (It is important to contrast "compliant" with "cooperative." The former behave well, the latter speak freely with interrogators. They are two highly distinct categories). Why? Because it is inside Camp IV that detainees have the freedom to come together in a group, and this access commanders knew could one day pose a serious threat. Moreover, there had been reports emanating from the blocks that some detainees were plotting to "act up" and capture a guard to murder him or her.
By Thursday evening Zulu block detainees in Camp IV were tense and restless. In reaction to the over doses, a camp-wide search for hidden prescription drugs had been underway since earlier in the day when the first OD's had been discovered. Stashes of valium, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, and other medications had been found secreted between the pages of Korans and in other hiding places, some in the detainees' groin area, an area considered off limits to search because of religious reasons. As with all of these real or invented religious restrictions, the detainees take maximum advantage to deceive guards. In this instance Muslim assistants inspected the Korans, which the guards are not permitted to touch.
By late afternoon things across Camp IV were becoming tense. Detainees in Bay 1, Zulu Block, a ten-man unit, began "acting up" as they guards refer to miscreant behavior. They refused to come out of their 10-man bays and line up so that their bay areas could be searched. They claimed, falsely, that not even the Muslim employees could touch their Korans. They became defiant and ignored orders. The officer in charge, an American Naval ensign, urged them to comply, reminding them that in Camp IV they enjoyed maximum privileges compared to other camps. The detainees ignored his orders and his pleas. At last, attempting to use peer pressure, the officer urged neighboring compliant detainees in Whiskey block, known to be leaders, to persuade the Zulu block detainees to cooperate. All to no avail.
Because of the tense situation involved in the camp that afternoon the quick reaction force (QRF) had been positioned nearby. The QRF is a swat-team like group of highly trained Army enlisted guards led by a lieutenant. They are used if forced extraction from cells is required. They have helmets, face plates, and padded suits but no lethal weapons. They carry batons. The Navy officer in charge of Camp IV grew increasingly concerned. He was being tested. He requested the QRF move into the camp and deploy in position to react. His bold move may have saved lives.
At about 1800 hours, May 18, Zulu block exploded. Detainees smashed the iron floor fan that circulates air inside the bay, ripping it apart to make weapons. One detainee grabbed the pole that had held the fan in position and began to swing it wildly, deliberately smashing overhead security cameras inside the bay. The other detainees immediately threw feces, urine, and small objects at the guard watching them in his booth behind the wire mesh. With noxious material flying through the wire mesh he withdrew to a point where he could observe the disturbance and not be excessively hit.
Outside the alarm sounded. From all over Camp Delta officers, NCOs, and soldiers ran to assist at Camp IV. Inside the camp the door accessing Bay 1, Zulu Block was locked electronically. Meanwhile, many other detainees in Zulu began to join with their "brothers" in Bay 1. The QRF replaced Navy guards and positioned itself outside of the door. At that critical moment the beleaguered observer outside Bay 1 then called a "Snowflake" alert. Snowflake is a code word for a possible detainee suicide. The observer had seen a detainee fashion a noose from clothing and act as if he were going to hang himself.
Another group of guards moved up along side the observer and taking advantage of the open mesh wire fired pepper gas spray into Bay 1. The pepper gas was blown into the back of the bay in an effort to stop the man from hanging himself. Under those circumstances, given the seriousness of the situation, the QRF could not simply let the detainees wear themselves out. It had no choice but to enter the bay to prevent the suicide.
On signal, a guard flipped a switch and the electronic lock was tripped. Yanking the door open the QRF raced inside. At this point as one of the guards told me, "we had no choice. We had to come out of there with 10 detainees. Anything less would have empowered the detainees and encouraged them to act out more." So ten American guards and ten detainees were set to tangle in a space littered with ripped up bunks, shattered light fixtures, and broken fans, all of which had been turned into makeshift but very lethal weapons in the hands of men who are by their own admission committed to kill Americans.
The order came to the QRF: "Enter and take them down." The detainee ambush on American guards was triggered as the QRF entered the kill zone.
The first two Americans, armed only with batons, lost their footing and slipped to the floor in the disgusting mess the detainees had created expressly for that purpose. A witch's brew of feces, urine, and soap suds coated the floor making a slippery, revolting mess. Immediately the detainee feigning suicide jumped from his bunk and joined his fellows in assaulting the guards on the floor. Using blades torn from the rotating fan, sharp glass objects from light fixtures, and pieces of the fan as bludgeons and knives they attempted to kill a guard. This had clearly been their intent from the outset. Despite the whine from apologists, this disturbance was not a protest but a calculated military action: an ambush. Knowing that the Americans would not let a suicide attempt proceed unhindered the detainees used the suicide ruse to lure the QRF into the kill zone.
Outside an alert, gutsy sergeant saw what was happening. Ignoring the rest of the QRF that was trying to enter the Bay, the detainees were focused over one guard, doing their damnest to kill him. The sergeant, in an act of enormous personal and professional courage given possible command repercussions, ordered the use of non-lethal munitions. This was the first instance of these kinds of rubber bullets ever being used at Guantanamo. Five shots later, the rubber bullets along with one larger "sponge" pellet from a shotgun-like weapon, convinced the murderous detainees that the Americans were serious. The assault was quelled. The QRF emerged, reeking of feces and bloodied but largely unharmed, escorting ten flex-cuffed rioters who remarkably suffered nothing more serious than minor scrapes and bruises.
Escort teams that had been waiting in the heat outside Camp IV lined up to shackle and remove detainees to individual cells in Camp 2/3. There detainees, back in non-compliant orange jump suits, could contemplate their lost comfort items and lost freedom they had enjoyed in Camp IV. More importantly the American soldiers and sailors guarding the "worst of the worst" at Camp Delta in Guantanamo were assured that they could control any disturbance and do so in a manner that prevented harm to detainee or guard. For the next two days morale soared among the camp personnel as they realized that they had almost flawlessly carried out a most critical, visible mission under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. It was a needed boost for these men and women who are more often slandered, libeled, and scorned by media and politicians alike.
Our men and women serving at Guantanamo are tough, well-trained, highly motivated, and astoundingly, willingly accept the thankless mission to which they have been assigned. They place themselves in harm's way every day, enduring verbal abuse and noxious assaults by detainees, so that we may sleep soundly at night. They do a job few of us would be willing or able to do. They are a nexus in the War on Terror. Be proud of them. Be very proud.
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Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu has been an Army Green Beret lieutenant colonel, as well as a writer, popular speaker, business executive and farmer. His most recent book is Separated at Birth, about North and South Korea.
By Navy Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which is responsible for detainee operations and intelligence gathering at the camp
I lead the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians responsible for the safe and humane care and custody of the unlawful enemy combatants held here at Guantanamo--a responsibility we take very seriously.
The question of what to do with enemy combatants--committed jihadists and terrorists--is relevant and important. As the person responsible for the detention of our nation's enemies held here, I appreciate and applaud the Chicago Tribune's posing of this serious question to your readership Sunday. Col. Robert McCormick would be pleased with the Tribune's efforts to address the pressing issues of our day.
The Tribune's characterization of Guantanamo as a "detention camp" is precisely correct. Despite our persistent efforts to correct the record, many mainstream outlets--print, voice and electronic--persist in referring to this facility as a "prison camp." This is not mere parsing of words or semantic folderol. Prisons are about punishment and rehabilitation; Guantanamo is about neither. What we are about is the detention of unlawful enemy combatants--dangerous men associated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban captured on the battlefield waging war on America and our allies, running from that battlefield, or otherwise closely associated with Al Qaeda and the Taliban--and, as you correctly pointed out, preventing them from returning to the fight. We hold men who proudly admit membership at the leadership level in Al Qaeda and the Taliban, many with direct personal contact and knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, attackers. We are keeping terrorist recruiters, facilitators, explosives trainers, bombers and bombmakers, Osama bin Laden bodyguards and financiers from continuing their jihad against America.
I do reject out of hand, however, the Tribune's notion that we are somehow delinquent in our moral responsibility to transform the camp and that the camp is "unsatisfactory." This is simply not true. Your editorial is either misleading or ill-informed. Conditions have improved dramatically for detainees since they first arrived in 2002. More important, we aggressively look for ways to build on the "safe and humane care and custody" mission with which I opened this dialogue.
Today, a large number of detainees live in Camp 4, a communal-living facility where they are housed in a barracks setting with access to 12 hours of recreation and exercise per day. We provide ample exercise areas and equipment for them. Additionally, work is nearly complete on our new Camp 6, a $30 million modern medium-security facility that will make life even better for the detainees, while adding safeguards for the troops and civilians who work here. The design of Camp 6 is based on a medium-security facility in the U.S.
All detainees at Guantanamo are provided with three meals a day that meet cultural (halal) dietary requirements--meals which, incidentally, cost three times what meals for our servicemen and -women here cost. We fully meet special dietary needs (e.g., Type 2 diabetics, vegetarians, fish-but-not-red-meat-eaters etc.) of many of our detainees. We provide safe shelter and living areas with beds, mattresses, sheets and running-water toilets. We also provide adequate clothing, including shoes and uniforms, and the normal range of hygiene items, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and shampoo. Even so, many detainees have taken advantage of this--crafting killing weapons from toothbrushes and garrotes from food wrappers, for example.
In good faith
Detainees enjoy broad opportunities to practice their Muslim faith, including the requisite calls to prayer five times per day, prayer beads, rugs and copies of the Koran in their native languages from some 40 countries. Directional arrows pointing to Mecca have been painted in every cell and camp. The American guard force is specifically prohibited from touching detainees' Korans. Some detainees have attempted to use this restriction to their advantage by secreting messages, contraband and the like within their Korans. When prayer call is sounded, the guards set out "prayer cones"--traffic cones stenciled with the letter "P"--for the 30 minutes of prayer call, as a visible reminder for the guards to avoid noise and disruption. This procedure was implemented after it was suggested by a detainee.
We have other camps where detainees who fail to follow camp rules are housed. As with Camp 4, these detainees are provided fair and humane treatment, have ample access to recreation time and equipment, equal access to medical and dental care, equal opportunity to practice their religion and other privileges. As are their colleagues in Camp 4, they are well-cared for and protected from inhumane treatment.
Detainees have sent and received more than 44,000 pieces of mail since February 2002, and our fully staffed detainee library has thousands of books and magazines for their use. Our library team just returned from a book-buying trip, adding nearly 2,000 Arabic titles to the library.
Doctors in the house
We provide outstanding medical care to every detainee, the same quality as what our service members receive. We are improving the health and extending the life span of the detainee population in our charge. Last year, we completed building a $2.4 million camp hospital to treat detainees. To date, we have completed more than 300 surgeries, including an angioplasty, and more than 5,000 dental procedures. We provide eye care and issued almost 200 pairs of glasses last year. We have given nearly 3,000 voluntary vaccinations, including diphtheria, tetanus, mumps, measles and rubella--in many cases they are the first immunizations detainees have ever received--as well as treatment for hepatitis, influenza and latent tuberculosis. We offer complete colon cancer screenings to all of our detainees who are more than 50 years old, and a variety of medical specialists provide preventive and restorative care.
Two weeks ago, a detainee broke his ankle playing soccer--what makes his case extraordinary is that he is a one-legged man! The quality of the prosthetic device he was given and the therapy he receives enabled him to play soccer. I have every confidence that he will soon return to that playing field. That said, many detainees persist in mixing a blood-urine-feces-semen cocktail and throwing this deadly concoction into the faces of the American men and women who guard them, feed them and care for them. Most of the time after such an assault, our guards decline the opportunity to take a day off. After a quick medical checkup and a shower, they prefer to put on a clean uniform and return to duty. And the only retribution they exact on the detainees is to simply continue to serve with pride, dignity and humanity.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which enjoys full diplomatic status, has unfettered access to the detainees. Their reports are useful, meaningful and confidential. They have helped us improve conditions here. I will note that, on April 25, Reuters reported that "detainees are enjoying better treatment at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, and the Red Cross is satisfied with its access to them ... Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said detention conditions at Guantanamo had `improved considerably' over the past four years ... He called it `extremely regrettable' that the intense media focus on Guantanamo seemed to distract from troubled sites in places like Chechnya and Myanmar, where the ICRC has suspended prison visits over disagreements with local authorities."
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had positive remarks to say about us based on its visit here this past March. As reported by Reuters, Alain Grignard, deputy head of Brussels' federal police anti-terrorism unit, at a press conference following an OSCE visit, said, "At the level of the detention facilities, it is a model prison, where people are better treated than in Belgian prisons." Anne-Marie Lizin, chairwoman of the Belgian Senate, told reporters at this same press conference that she saw no point in calling for the immediate closure of Guantanamo.
The U.S. government remains committed to not detaining any person any longer than is absolutely required. We are, in fact, outright releasing or transferring detainees to their home countries and other nations willing to accept them. In my reading of history, simply releasing enemy combatants during the course of an ongoing war is unprecedented.
Despite articles written by defense attorneys and young translators arguing the contrary, these are, in fact, dangerous men in our custody. Make no mistake about it--we are keeping enemies of our nation off the battlefield. This is an enormous challenge. These terrorists are not represented by any nation or government. They do not adhere to the rules of war. That said, we treat them humanely, in full compliance with all laws and international obligations.
The young Americans serving here in Guantanamo are upholding the highest ideals of honor and duty in a remote location, face to face with some of the most dangerous men on the planet. Your readers should be proud of them. I am proud to be their commander.
Navy Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. is commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which is responsible for detainee operations and intelligence gathering at the camp.