In what I consider to be the first must-read article of the year, Harper's Scott Horton exposes the circumstances behind the suspicious deaths of three Gitmo detainees in 2006:
Late in the evening on June 9 that year, three prisoners at Guantánamo died suddenly and violently. Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, from Yemen, was thirty-seven. Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, from Saudi Arabia, was thirty. Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, also from Saudi Arabia, was twenty-two, and had been imprisoned at Guantánamo since he was captured at the age of seventeen. None of the men had been charged with a crime, though all three had been engaged in hunger strikes to protest the conditions of their imprisonment. [...]
As news of the deaths emerged the following day, the camp quickly went into lockdown. The authorities ordered nearly all the reporters at Camp America to leave and those en route to turn back. The commander at Guantánamo, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, then declared the deaths "suicides." In an unusual move, he also used the announcement to attack the dead men. "I believe this was not an act of desperation," he said, "but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us." Reporters accepted the official account, and even lawyers for the prisoners appeared to believe that they had killed themselves.
Was the Pentagon telling the truth? Not so much:
The official story of the prisoners' deaths was full of unacknowledged contradictions, and the centerpiece of the report--a reconstruction of the events--was simply unbelievable. [...] Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman and men under his supervision have disclosed evidence in interviews with Harper's Magazine that strongly suggests that the three prisoners who died on June 9 had been transported to another location prior to their deaths. The guards' accounts also reveal the existence of a previously unreported black site at Guantánamo where the deaths, or at least the events that led directly to the deaths, most likely occurred.
Summarizing the details of the three deaths which were presented in great detail by Horton, conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan opines that:
There are now credible accounts that, far from being suicides, these deaths were either the result of serious negligence in treatment of prisoners under "enhanced interrogation" or that, quite simply, they were tortured so badly in what appears to be a secret Gitmo black site that they died. Their deaths were then covered up and faked as suicides.
Aghast at the "pre-meditated lies" put into place to protect the White House culprits, Sullivan observes that "[t]hey are attempts to lie about some of the worst crimes committed by a president and vice-president of the United States in history:"
Anyone with their eyes open and their mind not closed knows this somewhere deep inside. And the only reason we do not know more about this is because of the criminal cover-up under the Bush administration and the enraging refusal of the Obama administration to do the right thing and open all of it to sunlight.
I'm going to quote Sullivan's conclusion at length, because he makes his point exceedingly well:
This deserves to be the biggest story on the torture issue since Abu Ghraib - because it threatens to tear down the wall of lies and denial that have protected Americans from facing what the last administration actually did. [...]
This case deserves a thorough and complete and exhaustive inquiry and investigation. I no longer believe that any entity in the US government can be trusted with such a task. The investigation must be able to go right to the very top of the torture program and do so with no political influence whatsoever. The investigation must be conducted by an independent prosecutor - Patrick Fitzgerald comes to mind - or by the Red Cross or an international body. It must go up the chain of command to the very top to find the real people who are responsible for this war crime and three homicides.
Among those who need to be subpoenaed are the former president and vice-president of the United States.
To protect Bush and Cheney from punishment, GOP partisans must claim that--when it comes to high crimes and misdemeanors--a blowjob is more serious than torture and murder, and lying about a blowjob is worse than lying about war crimes.
Can they do so with a straight face? Or a clean conscience?