Adweek Article Misrepresents Autopsy Results on Guantanamo “Suicide”

7:08 pm in Military, Torture by Jeff Kaye

Charles Fried and Scott Horton (Harper's, human rights attorney) at Justice After Bush Panel, Princeton

Charles Fried and Scott Horton (Harper's, human rights attorney) at Justice After Bush Panel, Princeton by Cheryl Biren

A lot of people were apparently very upset when Scott Horton beat out Jane Mayer’s New Yorker article on the Koch brothers and Michael Hasting’s Rolling Stone article on Gen. McChrystal and won the National Magazine Award for Reporting this year. Horton’s January 2010 article in Harper’s, “The Guantanamo Suicides,” was based on a number of named sources, including the guard in the watch tower mere yards away from the scene of much of the action, and questioned the official story given by the Department of Defense about the purported suicide of three detainees on the evening of June 10, 2006.

Despite articles written that Horton claimed the murder of the detainees, Horton, along with a report by Seton Hall University School of Law, Center for Policy and Research released around the same time, strongly questioned the procedure and results of the DoD investigations and called for a new investigation. Guantanamo authorities had already announced their position within 24 hours of the discovery of the dead bodies: the deaths were supposedly planned suicides, part of an act of “asymmetrical warfare” on the part of the Taliban and Arab prisoners.

After Donald Rumsfeld and ex-DoD flak Cully Stimson wrote articles last month lambasting those who would question the official investigation, former Salon.com WarRoom editor Alex Koppelman produced his own critique in the pages of Adweek. The story, “The National Magazine Award and Guantánamo: A Tall Tale Gets the Prize,” posted May 23, got a big reception.

I’m not going to repeat all that was wrong with that story here. I’ve already produced a comprehensive examination of Koppelman’s points in an article posted at Truthout. But I will highlight one crucial area here, and expand upon the Truthout article.

What did Patrice Magnin’s Autopsy report really say?

After the death of one of the detainees, Ali Abdullah Ahmed (ISN 693), a 27-year-old Yemeni national, Ahmed’s father, not believing his son would transgress Islamic law and kill himself, asked for an independent autopsy after his son’s body was returned to the family.
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