Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Indefinite detention: the cost

From the "How could we have known?" files: another death at Guantanamo:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The latest prisoner to die at the U.S. base in Guantanamo, Cuba, was identified Tuesday as a Yemeni man with a history of mental illness who battled guards inside the prison and challenged his confinement all the way to the Supreme Court.

Adnan Latif spent more than a decade at Guantanamo, where he repeatedly went on hunger strike and once slashed his wrist and hurled the blood at his visiting lawyer. He also received mental health treatment at the detainee hospital, according to his lawyers and court records.

The government accused him of training with the Taliban in Afghanistan but he had never been charged and the military said there were no plans to prosecute him.

Latif was found unconscious in his cell inside the maximum security section of Guantanamo known as Camp 5 on Saturday and pronounced dead a short time later, according to a statement from the U.S. military's Miami-based Southern Command. It said the cause of death remains under investigation. He was the ninth prisoner to die at Guantanamo. [...]

Latif was well known in the small community of lawyers and human rights activists who focus on national security issues and Guantanamo because his legal challenge, which was turned back by the Supreme Court in June, was considered a major setback in the battle against the policy of holding men without charge at the U.S. base in Cuba. [...]

At one point, military records show, Latif was cleared for release. But the U.S. has ceased returning any prisoners to Yemen because the country is unstable and its government is considered ill-equipped to prevent former militants from resuming previous activities. There are about 55 Yemenis among the 167 men held at Guantanamo.

To sum up: a man never charged with the crime of terrorism, or with any crime, was held by our country because at one time we thought he might have been a threat; and though he was cleared to be released he couldn't go home, because his country is too unstable to prevent him from returning to the terrorist activities we never actually charged him with committing...so we let him deteriorate mentally and physically until he ended up dead.

But we're the good guys. Right? Right?

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