Guantanamo Suicides Said To Be ‘PR Move’
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
WASHINGTON – America yesterday denounced as “a good PR move” the suicides of three terrorism suspects at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.
The comment was made by a senior State Department spokesman, Colleen Graffy, who told the BBC World Service that the suicides were “a tactic to further the jihadi cause.”
The statement bolstered assessments from senior American commanders that the two Saudis and a Yemeni were hardened terrorists who hanged themselves as part of a propaganda war against America.
All three were said to have been members of terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda and the Taliban. They used bedding and clothes to hang themselves according to camp authorities.
But human rights activists and lawyers blamed the Bush administration and said the men had lost hope in a fair trial. The Human Rights Watch director, Kenneth Roth, said: “These people are despairing because they’re being held lawlessly and there’s no end in sight.”
The British constitutional affairs minister, Harriet Harman, joined the fray: “If it is perfectly legal and there is nothing going wrong there, why don’t they have it in America?” The Supreme Court is expected to rule this month on the legality of military tribunals established by the Bush administration to try some of Guantanamo’s 460 inmates.
It could decide that the men should be brought before courts in America.
But President Bush and his top aides have argued that the men are combatants rather than criminals and that they have no more right to a formal trial than Germans captured during the Second World War. Not all those accused are said to have committed criminal offenses. Many are judged terrorists likely to return the fight if freed.
The row erupted as Mr. Bush summoned top aides to Camp David to discuss Iraq’s future following the death of a terrorist leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
American officials are said to be drawing up plans to keep around 50,000 troops in the country for several years to come.