An Interesting Day at Gitmo

While I actually think these two item are coincidental, note two things that happened on the Gitmo front yesterday.

First, contrary to the claims of Gitmo prosecutors made last month, no inmate ever got a copy of Inspire. Thus, the entire excuse for intervening in the attorney-client communications of Gitmo detainees turned out to be ungrounded.

“We caught it before it went into the camps,” Rear Adm. David B. Woods said, adding that Guantánamo prison camp staff intercepted a copy of the now defunct glossy English-language publication in a routine incoming mail scan.

The circumstances are bizarre because on Jan. 18, a war court prosecutor used the discover of the magazine to justify Woods’ new policy of having contractors scan the privileged legal mail of Military Commission attorneys. “There was material getting in, like Inspire magazine,” said Cmdr. Andrea Lockhart.


Curiously, Woods said he did not know precisely when the episode happened.

But he said he was certain it did not occur during his nearly six-month tenure as prison camps commander.

Moreover, he said, the sender’s identity was on the package and that person was “counseled” against sending “that kind of information.” The sender was still having contact with the camps after what the admiral called an “attitude adjustment of what is informational contraband.”

Also yesterday, the guy who will replace the Woods, who put the new communications process into place (a judge has since revised them) was formally announced.

Rear Adm. (lower half) John W. Smith Jr. will be assigned as commander, Joint Task Force Guantanamo, U.S. Southern Command, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Smith is currently serving as deputy commander, Joint Interagency Task Force, U.S. Southern Command, Key West, Fla.

Here’s a biography for Smith.

Again, I think it’s just a coincidence both these stories came out yesterday. But it’s an interesting coincidence nevertheless.

One more Gitmo related story I hope to return to is this piece from Jeff Kaye, which provides details from the autopsy reports of two detainees alleged to commit suicide. One of the two, for example, was found in solitary confinement with his hands bound, yet the government claims he hanged himself.

Al Amri’s autopsy states that the “male civilian detainee” was “found hanging by his neck in his cell with a ligature made of braided strips of bed sheet. By report, similar fabric bound his hands loosely behind him.”

Note, these two deaths are separate from the three suspicious “suicide” deaths on June 9, 2006.

Like I said, I hope to return to Jeff’s piece, but in the meantime, do read it yourself.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

9 replies
  1. Skilly says:

    Finally, in the toxicology section of the report, the examiners note Al Amri was tested “for screened medications (including mefloquine) and drugs of abuse.”

    I have never heard about this med before. Is there some side effect that would make it an attractive drug for our “enhanced Interrogators?” It would be interesting to know what pharmaceuticals are being dispensed at Q? IN theory might there be requisition orders for Meds? Would those be subject to FOIA requests? I would love to see a list of all meds, even OTC sent to Q showing dates and amounts of such med shipments. hmmmmm?

    According to one site listing the FDA required Uses and Side Effects, “Mefloquine may cause psychiatric symptoms in a number of patients, ranging from anxiety, paranoia, and depression to hallucinations and psychotic behavior. On occasions, these symptoms have been reported to continue long after Mefloquine has been stopped. Rare cases of suicidal ideation and suicide have been reported though no relationship to drug administration has been confirmed. To minimize the chances of these adverse events, Mefloquine should not be taken for prophylaxis in patients with active depression or with a recent history of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, psychosis, or schizophrenia or other major psychiatric disorders. Mefloquine Hydrochloride Tablets should be used with caution in patients with a previous history of depression.”

  2. rugger9 says:

    With the deaths at Bagram’s Salt Pit and Abu Ghraib already known, and the also known redeployment of some of the goons to GTMO, is anyone surprised there are dead detainees? The crock is that in all probability they were innocent. Without the names and details we cannot be sure.

    As far as the intercepted mail, what SHOULD happen is that the defense teams kick up a fuss to get it litigated in a real courtroom, even a general court martial would suffice because rules of evidence apply there too. However, the PTBs including the current and former WH occupants can’t have that. Perhaps we’ll see fast-tracked plea deals?

  3. Jeff Kaye says:

    @Jim White: Thanks, Jim (and Marcy and bmaz). You know, I’ve been looking very, very closely at the drugs issue for some time. I’ve been told that a FOIA request of mine is very close to completion, and I’m hoping that I will have more of interest to report on the general drugging of detainees issue quite soon.

    You know, it’s important to remember that both Yoo, and later the authors of the current Army Field Manual, went out of their way to loosen the legal restrictions on the drugging of prisoners in general (not just the detainees or “unprivileged enemy combatants”). In fact, for reasons I never understood, the AFM went farther on this than even Yoo (and not in Appendix M, but in the main section of the AFM).

    In any case, as regards the new commander JTF Gitmo, the revolving door for commanders reminds me of the old Patrick McGoohan show, The Prisoner, where the main character was persistent confronted with an ever-changing number of Number 2’s in charge of the “village.” Of course, none of them really held the power.

  4. Jeff Kaye says:

    @Skilly: I think Jim White’s links will help you on this. I’ve not been able to write up the story, and will soon, but government documents prove that the CIA’s interest in antimalarials was part of the MKULTRA/MKDELTA program in the 1950s/1960s. There is in fact Senate testimony to this fact. I’m going to be writing about this soon.

  5. Jeff Kaye says:

    One other note, the 2006 suicides were also found with their hands bound, as both Scott Horton and Mark Denbeaux/Seton Hall pointed out. However, they had their hands bound in their front. Al Amri was found with his hands bound behind his back, which is much more indicative of possible homicide than even we saw in this regard with the 2006 cases. (The 2006 cases also had a lot of other questionable points in regards to suicide, of course.)

  6. matt carmody says:

    @Jeff Kaye: This hints at just how pervasive Helms’ lies to congress were while Bush Sr. was CIA director during the Church hearings. Helms stated that all the agency’s records re: MKULTRA had been destroyed and, therefore, could not be turned over to congress.

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