A regular reader writes:
Bad shit has happened, seems likely to still be happening, to prisoners under US protection, with little legal oversight (as if legal oversight of some of the bad shit that’s happened world even matter). It is a measure of how bad and how distressingly common said shit is, that the murder line Horton’s peddling is taken seriously by some serious people. And where you’re biting is, jeez, three dudes, this weird way they’re found (hands/feet bound, etc.), all the same — pushes credibility. OK. Now, the investigators put forward an explanation for how that might’ve happened. It’s creaky, and stinks, but it can sorta work. I’d like to hear Carter acknowledge that it’s possible but malodorous.
But what I’ve yet to hear you acknowledge — and this is what sets Shafer’s hackles (I think) and mine (I know) on edge, here, is, your narrative is also creaky. In that, well, what the hell is the motive here? We’ve had horrible shit done to prisoners in the process of interrogation and/or “interrogation” and under theories of what made them compliant. And we’ve seen just plain indiscriminate brutality to the newly captured. And we’ve seen long-term degradation of groups of prisoners in the name of some stupid idea of making them interrogable. That’s what we’ve seen and while I think it is largely deplorable, I get it: I understand it, there is something resembling a rationale there.
The Horton story: not so much. There’s some CIA guys, and they aren’t the regular keepers/interrogators, and there’s a hell of a lot of overlapping jurisdictions all sitting around. So these CIA guys, they got these three guys out, separately but deliberately. They killed one, probably with an injection. So they went and got another, and did the same. So they got another….
I mean, this is where the Horton story, for me, falls flat on its face. The few people banging this drum are telling me, ohmyGawd, it was a murder, the circumstances all show it was a murder. Fine. But — and it might be I’ve missed this writing — I haven’t seen anyone write up what it is they think the CIA/military (two services!) guys were trying to do, exactly. It’s none of those other three things we’ve seen. It doesn’t make sense. They planned the hell out of this thing, so what was it they were doing?
In the absence of that narrative I think the implausibilities Carter confronts are MUCH smaller than yours. Please give me a motive. Not “they wanted to interrogate them and did it too hard.” What exactly do you figure was going on, three separate times, that one night, to only those three? I mean, God knows it’s damning and horrifying enough to say that what we have been doing leaves untried, unconvicted prisoners so despairing and degraded as to plan their own suicides: I don’t need there to’ve been a murder and a huge coverup conspiracy to be outraged here.
Quickly, I’d say that those of us who doubt that these deaths are suicides don’t think that the prisoners were taken one by one from their cells to be deliberately murdered — just that a plausible counter-narrative has them dying at the hands of their captors in some way, perhaps via overzealous interrogation methods intended to keep them alive, but taken too far. What I’ve written is that there is circumstantial evidence that something like this happened, but certainly not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.
In prior writings, I should have said that perhaps there is a far less damning explanation: that the folks who accounted for these deaths strayed from an accurate narrative to cover-up misconduct by guards or the existence of a black site at Gitmo, and in doing so wound up looking as though they were covering up far more serious crimes.
Although I’ve got more to read on this subject, however, I remain convinced of three things: a) at best, America’s prison at Gitmo drove an innocent man to commit suicide under the watch of negligent guards, despite his having no ties to terrorists, and no one has been held accountable b) that the official narrative regarding these deaths is implausible on its face; c) due to the suspicious circumstances surrounding these deaths, the importance of treating prisoners, innocent detainees among them, humanely, and the fact that the government has on prior occasions covertly abused men in its custody, continued scrutiny into this story is justified.