Wednesday, January 26, 2005

THE BOSTON GLOBE's Charlie Savage writes about the disclosure by the U.S. military that 23 detainees at Guantanamo tried to hang or strangle themselves within an 8-day period in 2003. Ten of these suicide attempts took place on one day alone. None of the prisoners succeeded in killing themselves, and military authorities at Guantanamo called all but two of the attempts "manipulative, self-injurious behavior" designed to call attention to themselves, "disrupt camp operations and challenge a new group of security guards." Those two detainees whom the authorities decided were genuine were slightly injured in their suicide attempts. Because these two detainees had minor injuries that required them to go to the hospital, those detainees, it was concluded, had actually meant to kill themselves.

The same article also describes the Guantanamo authorities' plans to build permanent housing for detainees who are going to be living there (if the Pentagon has its way) for decades -- possibly the rest of their lives. Because, according to one military authority quoted in the article, "There are a great number of men here who are very dangerous and who, I believe [emphasis mine], would strike out against the United States or our allies at their first opportunity." Of course, belief is all he has -- since the U.S. military has not, to date, been able to gather enough evidence to charge a single detainee with a single crime, much less try and convict them.

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