Kicked Off The Island

From Holden:

Apparently the press is to blame for the fact that three detanees who had been locked up for years wihtout being charged or having their day in court committed suicide at GITMO.

In the aftermath of the three suicides at the notorious Guantanamo prison facility in Cuba last Saturday, reporters with the Los Angeles Times and the Miami Herald were ordered by the office of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to leave the island today.

A third reporter and a photographer with the Charlotte Observer were given the option of staying until Saturday but, E&P has learned, were told that their access to the prison camp was now denied.

[snip]

A curt e-mail to reporters Carol Rosenberg of the Herald and Carol Williams of the L.A. Times mentioned a directive from the office of Rumsfeld, and stated: “Media currently on the island will depart on Wednesday, 14 June 2006 at 10:00 a.m. Please be prepared to depart the CBQ [quarters] at 8:00 a.m.”

The Pentagon press officer, J.D. Gordon, told E&P that these two reporters had been invited to come to Guantanamo last weekend for the start of tribunals. Gordon and Observer photographer Todd Sumlin arrived to produce a profile of the camp commander, who hails from North Carolina. The suicides of the three detainees happened to occur in this time period and the tribunals were cancelled.

The reporters, with the approval of the base commander, covered the aftermath of the suicides, and interviewed attorneys who ripped the legal horrors for the inmates, few of whom have been formally charged with any crime. A lawyer who had tried to represent one of the dead men was accusing the U.S. government “of thwarting his efforts with bureaucratic maneuvers” and lamented that justice can never be done for his client now that he is dead.

Only after stories started appearing were the reporters ordered to leave, on a hastily arranged military flight to Miami, over the protests of their editors.

Rosenberg revealed that the admiral in charge of the overall base had given them permission to stay but the Pentagon spokesman told E&P that Rumsfeld’s office was overruling that idea.

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