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Guantanamo Suicides Stir Criticism of U.S. Policy

Over the weekend, news of three suicides at the Guantanamo detention facility in Cuba raised new questions about the manner in which the United States is treating terror suspects.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    The three suicides over the weekend at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. We get the latest from Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald. She's been reporting from Guantanamo, and she joins us now from there by telephone.

    Carol Rosenberg, welcome.

  • CAROL ROSENBERG, The Miami Herald:

    Well, thank you.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Carol, is there anything new, first of all, today on possible motives these three men might have had for taking their own lives?

  • CAROL ROSENBERG:

    They're not talking about those sorts of things. They say that the Navy criminal investigators are in control, I believe, of the suicide notes and all of the forensic material and are compiling a report. And the autopsies have been completed in the labs here, and now the pathologists have gone back to the States to analyze the findings.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    So there has been no public release of what those autopsies found, correct?

  • CAROL ROSENBERG:

    No, they're still compiling them. They finished the work in the lab and they've gone back to the States.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    It's going back. And on the notes, each one had a separate note; is that correct?

  • CAROL ROSENBERG:

    Yes, the military says that each one left a note behind, and we aren't going to see them any time in the near future. The commander I spoke to said he hadn't seen them himself.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    But nothing is leaking around the edges on this story; is that right, Carol?

  • CAROL ROSENBERG:

    They've been pretty tight — it's been a pretty close hold on this. This is something that hasn't happened here in the past 4 1/2 years, and people are being pretty disciplined about dealing with the aftermath of this.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Not only have there not been any suicides, there haven't been any deaths, am I right about that, in 4 1/2 years?

  • CAROL ROSENBERG:

    That's right. No detainee has died at Guantanamo before Saturday night, according to the military. They had some close calls, another suicide attempt by hanging, but, in that instance, the guards cut that man down a number of years ago.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, in these three cases, the best you can piece together — and I realize it's very difficult, because, as you say, the lid is on tight — but the best you can piece it together, how did these three men avoid detection? In other words, how did they pull it off, particularly at essentially the same time on Saturday?

  • CAROL ROSENBERG:

    Yes, they all did it overnight. They were all discovered well before dawn hanging, one after another.

    The military says that they've sort of shifted tactics from one thing to another. When they were trying to supposedly kill themselves with hunger strikes, they broke the hunger strikes, so, at various times, different detainees, other detainees tried to slit their wrists and cut themselves.

    There were drug overdoses; people were found unconscious. And in this instance, they managed to made nooses, they say, out of bed sheets, but they don't explain why these were not spotted.

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