A Yemeni detainee who was found dead in September at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, died from an overdose of psychiatric medication, according to several people briefed on a Naval Criminal Investigative Service inquiry.
But while a military medical examiner labeled the man’s death a suicide, how the prisoner obtained excess drugs remains under investigation, according to American and Yemeni officials.
Savage’s sources suggest that Latif was stockpiling the drugs himself, perhaps in a bodily orifice.
One official, however, discounted [David Remes'] theories, saying investigators were working from the premise that Mr. Latif pretended to swallow his drugs for a period and hid the growing stash on his body. Prison monitoring policies — including how closely guards inspect detainees’ mouths after giving any medication and search their private areas — are now facing review.
Though of course, that would have required Latif to have brought them with him from the hospital ward to the solitary confinement ward, which would mean he managed to get the drugs by both the administration period but also the admission into solitary.
Savage also doesn’t mention a few details from Leopold’s earlier article. Shaker Aamer told David Remes that Latif had been told he’d be injected with a drug detainees say turns them into zombies for a month.
Aamer contends Latif was told on September 6, two days before his death, he would be given an “ESP injection,” that other prisoners claim “makes you a zombie” and “has a one-month afterlife,” according to unclassified notes of the meeting between Remes and Aamer.
More interesting still–given the points I raised above about how Latif would have managed to get drugs into solitary with him–is this detail.
Another prisoner said a female psychologist accompanied Latif from the hospital to Camp 5, where one prisoner told Remes the minimum stay is three months, “regardless of the magnitude of the offense.”
The female psychologist said she would communicate Latif’s concerns about being housed in Camp 5 to “higher-ups.”
Mind you, this psychologist at least sounds sympathetic. Moreover, this detail would seem to be unknowable to other detainees–how would they know what she had told Latif?–unless the psychologist had spoken to other detainees.
Finally, there’s this: Savage’s sources (as were some of Leopold’s) are citing the NCIS investigation, not the autopsy. But that’s not supposed to be done for nine months. Now perhaps NCIS doesn’t expect to have an explanation for how Latif got or stashed the drugs for another 7 months at least. Or perhaps the NCIS investigation will take that long only to make sure Latif’s remains will be good and decomposed by the time it’s done.
But as we discuss the minutia of how a detainee managed to overdose in closely guarded solitary, remember this: He was almost certainly innocent, and he surely should not have remained in Gitmo after habeas review. Because of that legal injustice, we’re left playing clue about how a disturbed man died in America’s prison camp.