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Last Night was the Season Premier of "24" - Before the second commercial break Retired CTU Agent Jack Bauer had already put a gun to someone's throat, shouting "Tell Me Everything You Know!" into his face.

This he did when the person was voluntarily coming to give him information in the first place.

If the mendacity of such a scenario has become somewhat blase after 8 years of struggle with international terrorism, the following real life story as Reported by Harper's of the systematic cover-up of the death of three Gitmo Detainee's who may very well have been tortured to death in 2006 should send a chill down your spine.

Were these the murders that Jack Wrought?

Today is MLK Day.  A single day dedicated to a man who helped raise the nations awareness to a system of brutality and injustice that had plagued this nation from it's inception.  A system that may indeed continue today in new forms and new shapes.

In the many years since 9-11 we've been told repeatedly that we needed to "Re-Write" the old rules.  To take the battle to the enemy and to work - sometimes - "On the Dark Side".

The question is "Re-Write them into what?" - and using who or what as a guidepost?

U.S. Soldiers have openly admitted that once the Army Field Manual and Geneva Conventions were official thrown out (by Bush and Rumsfeld in 2002), those in the field began to make up their own rules.  And one of the places they did turn to- were television actions stars like Jack Bauer.

From Thinkprogress in 2007.

 

The television show 24 has become a foreign policy guide for the right wing. Numerous conservative pundits have cited 24 as a sanction for harsh interrogation practices. In September, Laura Ingraham stated, "The average American out there loves the show 24. ... In my mind that’s close to a national referendum that it’s OK to use tough tactics against high-level Al Qaeda operatives as we’re going to get."  

Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan recently told the 24 producers that he was concerned that the show’s promotion of illegal torture "was having a damaging effect on young troops."

In an interview with Newsweek, former U.S. Army specialist Tony Lagouranis, who left the military with an honorable discharge in 2005, confirms Finnegans fears — that U.S. soldiers did take cues from 24 to torture prisoners:

     

Interrogators didn’t have guidance from the military on what to do because we were told that the Geneva Conventions didn’t apply any more. So our training was obsolete, and we were encouraged to be creative. We turned to television and movies to look for ways of interrogating. I can say that I saw that with myself, also. I would adopt the posture of the television or movie interrogator, thinking that establishing that simple power arrangement, establishing absolute power over the detainee, would force him to break. ...

[We adopted mock] executions and mock electrocution, stress positions, isolation, hypothermia. Threatening to execute family members or rape detainees’ wives and things like that.

I'm not normally one to look at Art as an explanation for the actions of people in the Real World. Far From it. But this may be one case where Tough Guy Revenge Fantasy of the Right-Wing Baeur-ites may have run smack face-first into Hard Reality resulting in a trio of War Crimes.

The Official Story is that 32-year-old Salah Ahmed Al-Salami from Yemen, 30-year-old Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi from Saudi Arabia and 22-year-old Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani also from Saudi Arabia, all committed suicide. Simultaneously, in three different, non-adjacent cells, using the exact same method - three men tied their own hands (one of whom had their feet tied), stuffed rags down their own throats, tied nooses made of bed sheets and t-shirts around their own necks, perched themselves on the sink in the cells and lept to their deaths.

Faculty and Students from SETON HALL in New Jersey analysed the Official NCIS Report, which was released two years after the incident, and their findings were that the a story told by the Report is frankly not possible to believe. Supposedly the detainees weren't found until at least two hours later, long enough for Rigor-mortis to set in, yet their cells are supposed to be checked by Guards every ten-minutes. They somehow managed to use sheets to block the view into their cells, and also bunch them up to make it appear as if they were in bed sleeping - how exactly they acquired this many extra sheets is not explained - yet, no guards were disciplined for failing to check on them or failing to notice they have managed to completely barricade themselves.

The Commander of the Camp at the time, then Rear Admiral Harry Harris claimed that the suicides were actually an attack on the Camp.

"I believe this was not an act of desperation," he said, "but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

But the Official Story has begun to break down as four former Army Intelligence non-commissioned Officers who were present during the events of June 9th, 2006 - yet NCIS Investigator never talked to them, and their commanding Officers order to remain silent - have now come forward to e interviewed by Harpers.

They describe a completely difference scenario, where the three prisoners in question had been removed from the primary base and taken to a second secret location - which they nicknamed "Camp No" - out the outskirts of the base.

"Camp No" isn't supposed to exist. It's a small bunker without a guard tower, protected by concertina wire - which is serviced by a White Van (Called the "Paddy Wagon") which moves one prisoner at a time in and out.  All visitors and movement on the base is supposed to be documented and logged - all movement that is except for movements made by the "Paddy Wagon". On the Night in question Sgt. Joe Hickman of the Army Reserves, who in civilian life has worked as a private investigator, observed the Paddy Wagon moving between Alpha Block and Camp No making at least three trips - then returning once more and backing up to the medical facility, just before all hell broke lose.

Another thirty minutes passed. Then, as Hickman and [Army Specialist Christopher] Penvose both recall, Camp Delta suddenly "lit up"—stadium-style flood lights were turned on, and the camp became the scene of frenzied activity, filling with personnel in and out of uniform. Hickman headed to the clinic, which appeared to be the center of activity, to learn the reason for the commotion. He asked a distraught medical corpsman what had happened. She said three dead prisoners had been delivered to the clinic. Hickman recalled her saying that they had died because they had rags stuffed down their throats, and that one of them was severely bruised. {Specialist Tony] Davila told me he spoke to Navy guards who said the men had died as the result of having rags stuffed down their throats.

The story of having rags stuff down their throats is one that is highly similar to the story told by another detainee who went through similar treatment that same night - a 42-year-old Saudi Arab name Shaker Aamer in Federal Court filings supplied by his attorney.

On June 9th, 2006, [Aamer] was beaten for two and a half hours straight. Seven naval military police participated in his beating. Mr. Aamer stated he had refused to provide a retina scan and fingerprints. He reported to me that he was strapped to a chair, fully restrained at the head, arms and legs. The MPs inflicted so much pain, Mr. Aamer said he thought he was going to die. The MPs pressed on pressure points all over his body: his temples, just under his jawline, in the hollow beneath his ears. They choked him. They bent his nose repeatedly so hard to the side he thought it would break. They pinched his thighs and feet constantly. They gouged his eyes. They held his eyes open and shined a mag-lite in them for minutes on end, generating intense heat. They bent his fingers until he screamed. When he screamed, they cut off his airway, then put a mask on him so he could not cry out.

A Mask to cover their face, and also prevent removal of the rag down their throat wss found on two of the deceased detainees - but went unremarked on by NCIS.

Despite the fact that those on the base were initially told that detainees died as a result of "rags being stuff in their mouths" - they were told the following day by Colonel Bumgardner (a Subordinate of Adm. Harris) that reporters were being told they "died by hanging" and that they should not note the contradiction if asked, and that also - their communications to their wives and family were being monitored.

In addition to keeping the soldiers on the base quiet, the NCIS investigators were kept on a short leash as well.

The investigators conducted interviews with guards, medics, prisoners, and officers. As the Seton Hall researchers note, however, nothing in the NCIS report suggests that the investigators secured or reviewed the duty roster, the prisoner-transfer book, the pass-on book, the records of phone and radio communications, or footage from the camera that continuously monitored activity in the hallways, all of which could have helped them authoritatively re-construct the events of that evening.

Footage of the hallways would have confirmed - or refuted - the suggestion put forth by Sgt Hickman that these men were most likely not even in their cells at the time of their supposed suicides.

On top of all this there is also the strong likeyhood that Yassar, the youngest of the three was completely innocent.

When I asked Talal Al-Zahrani what he thought had happened to his son, he was direct. "They snatched my seventeen-year-old son for a bounty payment," he said. "They took him to Guantánamo and held him prisoner for five years. They tortured him. Then they killed him and returned him to me in a box, cut up."

Al-Zahrani was a brigadier general in the Saudi police. He dismissed the Pentagon’s claims, as well as the investigation that supported them. Yasser, he said, was a young man who loved to play soccer and didn’t care for politics. The Pentagon claimed that Yasser’s frontline battle experience came from his having been a cook in a Taliban camp. Al-Zahrani said that this was preposterous: "A cook? Yasser couldn’t even make a sandwich!"

In fact, Yasser had already been determined to be no threat and was scheduled to be released.

If Sgt. Hickman's story is to be believed, these men were tortured to death. Exactly what information was supposed to be gained by this treatment of these men continues to remain shrouded in mystery, other than just to intimidate them or compel false confessions.  The Obama Justice Department appears to be closing this investigation on the matter leaving the Official NCIS Report as it stands, even after recently interviewing Sgt. Hickman and Specialists Davila and Penvose.

"the gist of Sergeant Hickman’s information could not be confirmed."

So Justice for these three men, or at least a better accounting of the record, remains denied behind a wall of secrecy, lies, threats and high security - all in the name of the "War On Terror".

Vyan

Originally posted to Vyan on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:35 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (16+ / 0-)

    Commmunism = Government Run Corporations. Fascism = Corporate Run Government. Freedom = Government Protecting People from Corporate Criminals

    by Frank Vyan Walton on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:36:01 AM PST

    •  Super important story (5+ / 0-)

      Scott Horton has meticulously laid out the case for murder at Guantanamo, and then cover-up, including cover-up by the Obama administration, who in the process have maligned the officer/whistleblower who was given a commendation for his work at Gitmo, and had been in charge of all the guards protecting the camp perimeter at Gitmo's Camp America.

      I can't believe this story is not at the top of the rec list. Perhaps, it's because you buried the lede.

      Still, a great job of summarizing Horton's article. I can't think of a better diary for MLK day. MLK was about justice. He spoke out against the Vietnam War, as well as racial equality and justice. He believed in the truth. I couldn't think of a better homage than a diary revealing the government was involved in a hideous crime.

      Forget the 24 meme. It's not that important, and makes people think that the torture came from Fox. No, it came from the high levels of the government, CIA and military.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:53:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Such an important story... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mos1133, jfromga

    ...but today is the wrong day, and placing blame for the cover-up, which took place years ago, at the feet of Obama is the wrong frame.

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

    by Jay Elias on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:43:28 AM PST

    •  Everyday is the Right Day (12+ / 0-)

      to face Injustice of this magnitude.  In fact, I would argue that it's even more important to stand up, and to demand that Obama stand up - ON THIS DAY.

      Bush's Military committed the crime, but it's on Obama's watch that the cover up is being ignored and buried.  The Red Cross has long suspected that their was a Secret Black Site at Gitmo, now those suspicious have been confirmed and even if not neccesary related to this case - the usage and purpose of that Site needs to be fully investigated.

      Vyan

      Commmunism = Government Run Corporations. Fascism = Corporate Run Government. Freedom = Government Protecting People from Corporate Criminals

      by Frank Vyan Walton on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:48:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Morally, sure... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mos1133

        ...as far as hoping to get actual attention and results from your efforts?  In that case, not every day is the right day.

        The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

        by Jay Elias on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:50:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Obama and Torture... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KingCranky

        So...do you think Obama will actually do 'anything' to remedy this? I mean, to prosecute those CIA officers who participated in this crime agianst U.S. law? My money lies in the fact that he hasn't prosecuted any war criminals in the Bush regime, and only the small single soldiers are being prosectued at this moment. He won't do squat. So, is it a good day for Obama to stand up? yes. Will he, I doubt it.

        "The people have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take." - Emma Goldman

        by jvackert on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:16:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Then again, maybe it's a perfect day to speak (9+ / 0-)

      about one of MLK's favorite subjects, justice.  And coverups always happen after the fact.

      "Peace cannot be achieved by force. It can only be achieved by understanding" Albert Einstein

      by BigAlinWashSt on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:50:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but we assume that a cover-up (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Vyan

        is to hide a crime.  More often than not, it's probably to hide a gross mistake.  

        Also, not wanting to offer a justification or defense, I think we should note that the question of qualified and absolute immunity for agents of government (law enforcement) whose actions are injurious but carried out in the line of duty and not to benefit themselves has not been settled.

        That Bush/Cheney were worried about sovereign immunity we can deduce from the fact that the solicited and got all those opinions telling them that torture is legal (it's not torture if an agent of government does it at the direction of a higher-up) in order to be able to demonstrate, at a minimum that they were trying to comply with the law.

        Of course, what they didn't ask was whether depriving an individual is ipso facto a crime, if there's been no judicial determination that punishment (deprivation of rights) has been deserved.  That they came close is evident from the fact that they argued that alien persons have no rights.  It took a SCOTUS decision to throw that out.
        But the issue whether any person doing his duty is covered by qualified immunity from being found at fault has not been decided.  It was discussed in the oral arguments for Pottawatamie v. McGhee, but when it looked like the SCOTUS decision would be adverse, the case was settled with a payment of two million dollars.

        The way our system works, the constitutionality of behavior has to be addressed in a specific case.  Moreover, there's a presumption that agents of government do not commit crimes while doing their jobs and overcoming that presumption is hard.  Not impossible, but hard.

        It is not the role of the President to make such determinations.

        How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

        by hannah on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:56:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're correct (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chuckvw

          it's the role of the Attorney General,or more specifically the Special Prosecutor who has already been assigned to analyse the use of "Enhanced Interrogation" - whether that prosecutor will take up this issue, which has already been shelved under the Holder/Obama Justice Dept. remains to be seen.

          Vyan

          Commmunism = Government Run Corporations. Fascism = Corporate Run Government. Freedom = Government Protecting People from Corporate Criminals

          by Frank Vyan Walton on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 01:31:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  For issues to be tried in our system (0+ / 0-)

            there have to be two parties with standing.  In a normal murder case, the state is one party with a valid claim to having been deprived of a citizen or person resident in its jurisdiction.  The state, in this case, has no interest in the dead/murdered persons.  It could even be argued that they are simply casualties of warfare.
            Now, there is an Alien Tort Claims Act that's been on the books since 1789. There have been several efforts by foreign nationals to file lawsuits under that statute in connection with having been falsely detained.  That German fellow who was kidnapped and released in some place like Rumania tried that and failed.  It may be that some valid monetary claim must be made.  Perhaps some close relative of the dead can file a claim as a civil matter, not in criminal court.
            Now, the cover up of the homicides to protect careers may well be a crime--an insult to the state which expects honest service from its agents.

            It's going to take a long time to work through this kerfuffle.  Even the Brits are busy convincing themselves that the invasion and occupation was justified because Saddam Hussein SAID he had bad intentions, even though he had no wherewithall to carry them out.  Acting on the basis of what other people say is a very dangerous practice when it's combined with a person's right to say anything they want.  Some of our agents of government seem to think that the purpose of free speech is to let them know what people are planning to do and so they can intercept them.  So, they keep being tricked into stupid responses to non-acts.

            How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

            by hannah on Tue Jan 19, 2010 at 02:31:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  very wrong, Jay Elias: Wednesday will be a year (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chuckvw, BigAlinWashSt

      since we were promised by this President, and since a written order went out, to shut down Gitmo and put an end to torture of pows (and others held as pows) in US hands and by US servicemembers.

      To shut the book on this atrocity is not justice. It is not abiding by those orders.

      Texas: Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Lady Bird & LBJ, Ann Richards, Sam Rayburn, Dan Rather, Ike, Sully Sullenberger, Lloyd Bentsen. It's No Bush League!

      by BlackSheep1 on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:15:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There was a guest on the Daily Show (6+ / 0-)

    that described torture as falling into the realm of the lazy, the stupid and the pseudo tough.  I thought that was a great description of the entire Bush Presidency, lazy stupid and pseudo tough.  Without the right wing noise machine (Aka MSM) cheering on those war criminals and preventing their prosecution as required by the laws and treaties of the USA,  Cheney would be living in a cell in Brussels.  He is not anxious to hear from KSM and his lawyer about being illegally water tortured 186 times in a month.  The effectiveness of torture as a technique exists only in the demented minds of the neocons, in reality it serves no purpose but revenge and is a war crime by those who participate in torture or are complicit to torture.  Cheney wasted time money and the honor of the USA for no reason in reality.

    "The alternative to thinking in evolutionary terms is to not think at all" Sir Peter Medawar

    by J Edward on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 12:11:14 PM PST

  •  We have DOJ to yell at. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw

    And his name, not Obama's should be mentioned.  

  •  The complete story at harpers.org now. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw

    Harper's magazine will include this story in it's March issue out on Feb. 15.

  •  Obama better step up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw

    Because this is where his record is going to stand the most despite the media's complicity in ignoring this story.

  •  Two movies that should have copies... (0+ / 0-)

    hidden away from the R`s,and especially the born again Christians/Moneychangers who some called the Scribes and Pharisees:in fact Christ threw the Moneychangers out of the temple as evil doers.He was at odds with the Scribes and the Pharisees because of their lies and dishonesty.
    The movies are: "Rendition"tells the story of a man kidnapped by our government and tortured by an unnamed
    Middle East country."Taxi to the Dark Side"tells of the arrest,torture,and eventual murder of an innocent Afghan
    in Bagram prison.

    "Someday,all those cocksuckers will get caught." Frank Zappa `88

    by sully18 on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:34:35 PM PST

  •  The U.S.A. THE MOST VIOLENT NATION ON EARTH (0+ / 0-)

    ..."all in the name of the "War On Terror".But those of us who have been paying attention know it as a "war of terror."

    "Someday,all those cocksuckers will get caught." Frank Zappa `88

    by sully18 on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:41:34 PM PST

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