Media Falling Down on Gitmo “Suicides”

I hope that anyone who has not already done so will read Scott Horton’s important piece in Harper’s investigating the cover-up of the 2006 deaths of three Guantanamo detainees, deaths which were publicly reported as suicides. (Or, in the Strangelovian language of the base’s commander, as acts of “asymmetrical warfare against us.”) Based on the testimony of several former Guantanamo military personnel, Horton provides strong evidence suggesting that the three detainees — none of whom had been charged with any crime — may in fact have been killed while being interrogated at a secret “black site” outside the main Guantanamo base.

It is not terribly surprising that the leading apologists for the Bush-Cheney torture regime — the likes of Marc Thiessen, Thomas Joscelyn, and so on — have refused to respond to Horton’s piece. What is more surprising, however, is that the major U.S. papers have paid little attention as well. After remaining silent all day, the New York Times and Washington Post finally posted an AP wire story on the revelations this evening, but it is nowhere to be found on their main pages. The Los Angeles Times still appears to have nothing whatsoever on the story.

By contrast, the major British papers (with the exception of Rupert Murdoch’s Times) have all followed up on Horton’s piece. It is by now a depressingly familiar pattern that the British media exhibit far more interest in the abuses of the Bush/Blair years than their American counterparts. Still, one would think that a possible triple homicide of detainees in U.S. custody, and the subsequent cover-up by both the Bush and Obama administrations, would merit some U.S. news coverage — even given the almost exclusive focus on Haiti and Massachusetts at the moment.

Daniel Luban

Daniel Luban is a postdoctoral associate at Yale University. He holds a PhD in politics from the University of Chicago and was formerly a correspondent in the Washington bureau of Inter Press Service.



  1. Oh come on Daniel, you know a hyperpower can’t cripple itself investigating the deaths of 3 of it’s enemies. Perhaps you missed Francis Fukiyama’s article, history is over. No one will ever upset the fixed nature of our empire.

    You know the sun never sets on empires, why do you insist on trying to shackle us to our ideals, what are you a communist or terrorist?

  2. Agree with Scott. The Empire would much prefer to investigate the shocking, horrifying use of steroids by major league baseball players. There’s simply no time to investigate trivialities like murders in Guantanamo.

  3. I am concerned about people in Gitmo sitting there forever without trial. It’s not right. On the other hand, I remain mystified at the outcry over the treatment of those detainees who were taken in arms on the battlefield. These particular people wore no uniform, represented no state — they were and are francs-tireurs, nothing more. It is astonishing to me that francs-tireurs are accorded any rights whatsoever. Under the laws of war such people can be tried by court-martial and executed right on the battlefield. And indeed, this is what should have been done to them, after any useful intelligence they had was extracted from them.

  4. actually John, there ARE laws of war, they are known as the Geneva Conventions. The people you describe are described in there too. Even the scenario you provided at least offers them an arraignment before they are summarily executed. We’ve tortured to death or by some other neglect allowed over a HUNDRED soles to die without ever being CHARGED with any crime.

  5. You should note that I did not refer to summary execution. They can be tried in the field. Anyone who thinks it’s acceptable in war for francs-tireurs or terrorists to kill soldiers has never been under fire himself.

    I also specifically mentioned those taken under arms. Please don’t mix up what I said as a condoning of torture, which is a separate issue.

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