A death at Guantánamo
It is always depressing when a prisoner dies at Guantánamo -- in an environment that, lest we forget, is inimical to the regular functioning of a law-abiding society. The last man to die at Guantánamo was Adnan Latif, a Yemeni with severe mental health problems, who died last September. We covered his case at the time (see here
), and last week Andy Worthington revisited the sad story of his death.
In the article, entitled, "EXCLUSIVE: The Last Days in the Life of Adnan Latif, Who Died in Guantánamo Last Year
," Andy drew on unclassified notes made by Ramzi Kassem, the attorney for Abdelhadi Faraj, a Syrian prisoner who knew Adnan, and who recounted the story of his last few months. The article also drew on the military report into Adnan's death, secured through a FOIA request by Jason Leopold of Al-Jazeera, with which Mr. Faraj's account was compared and contrasted.
The death of Adnan Latif, who had been cleared for release under President Bush and President Obama, ought to serve as a permanent rebuke to President Obama and Congress, for their failure to secure the release of men cleared for release for many years.
Moreover, his death -- allegedly by committed suicide, using medication he had hoarded -- appears to have been one of the main contributory factors that led to the aggressive cell searches that triggered the prison-wide hunger strike that began nearly six months ago, and the intimate body searches that, in recent weeks, have been preventing many of the prisoners from meeting with their attorneys or even speaking to them on the phone.
We're pleased to note that, in the District Court in Washington D.C. on July 11, Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth prohibited the practice
, describing it as an “exaggerated response” to security concerns. He stated in his ruling, “The choice between submitting to a search procedure that is religiously and culturally abhorrent or foregoing counsel effectively presents no choice for devout Muslims like petitioners.”
The ruling only lasted six days, as the appeals court (the D.C. Circuit Court) granted a stay of Judge Lamberth's ruling, after Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, who leads the U.S. Southern Command, said that he considered "prohibiting the search of the areas between detainees’ waists and knees" to be an "unacceptable risk to the military personnel under my command."
Judge Lamberth's ruling was a rare glimpse of light in the seemingly unending darkness that is Guantánamo, and it is depressing both that he was overruled, and that the claim that the searches were necessary was blamed on Adnan Latif, and his alleged hoarding of medication to kill himself. As our article explains, the official story of Adnan Latif's death is still unconvincing and needs an official and objective investigation.
Furthermore, what Adnan's death should have led to most of all has still not come to pass -- the release of other men who, like Adnan, were cleared for release but are still held at Guantánamo, where they too may die while waiting -- apparently interminably -- for their freedom.
With thanks, as ever, for your support,
The "Close Guantánamo" team
P.S. Please, if you will, ask your friends and family to join us
-- just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.