A Casualty of Asymmetrical Warfare

So far, no flippant responses from the Defense or Justice Departments to the latest news that yet another GTMO detainee, this time a Saudi national, has managed to kill himself at our gulag beach resort at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Around this time last year, when three detainees killed themselves, GTMO commanding officer Rear Adm. Harris insisted that this was some kind of gesture of “asymmetrical warfare”.) While we do get the usual explanation of a detainee “found not responsive”, we get no details such as the name, or whether the detainee was one of those scheduled for release (because they’re all “the worst of the worst”, of course), or in this case, the manner of suicide.
The WaPo article relies on insanely under-stated official estimates of “around 40 suicide attempts by 25 detainees”. We know, for example, from our interview with Joshua Colangelo-Bryan that his own client Juma Al-Dossari may have exceeded that number all by himself, and that suicide attempts were rampant. What has happened, of course, is that the military has simply stopped counting suicide attempts, and calling them other things. Well, three of the Orwellianisms managed to work last year, and a fourth this year. That’s around 1% of the current detainee population. Given that, unlike the usual super-max prison, where those held have been tried and convicted of something and have a determinate sentence (even if its a long one, or a life sentence), the GTMO detainees have simply been determined guilty by executive fiat, and may face life, or may be released tomorrow, again, by executive fiat and whim. And unlike the usual super-max, they are subject to the kind of officially sanctioned abuse and torture, which, stateside, some lawyer and judge might find offends the Eighth Amendment.
No matter. A “cultural advisor” is on hand to make sure that the prisoner’s body is treated with the kind of respect that the prisoner was denied while he was alive (doubtless using protocols written by former chaplain Capt. James Yee, interviewed here.)
And so it goes. Another day at the office, if the office is Joint Task Force Guantanamo. This ongoing stain on our nation’s integrity continues. Our friends at Cage Prisoners count this as day 1967 of illegal imprisonment at GTMO; my Bush Countdown Calendar tells me we have 600 days left of this Administration.
Deep sighs all around.