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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


A Casualty of Asymmetrical Warfare

The Talking Dog has been covering the legal aspects of the Gitmo story since it started. Now he's on the part where our guests are killing themselves.

So far, no flippant responses from the Defense or Justice Departments to the latest news that yet another GTMO detainee, this time a Saudi national, has managed to kill himself at our gulag beach resort at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Around this time last year, when three detainees killed themselves, GTMO commanding officer Rear Adm. Harris insisted that this was some kind of gesture of "asymmetrical warfare".) While we do get the usual explanation of a detainee "found not responsive", we get no details such as the name, or whether the detainee was one of those scheduled for release (because they're all "the worst of the worst", of course), or in this case, the manner of suicide.

The WaPo article relies on insanely under-stated official estimates of "around 40 suicide attempts by 25 detainees". We know, for example, from our interview with Joshua Colangelo-Bryan that his own client Juma Al-Dossari may have exceeded that number all by himself, and that suicide attempts were rampant. What has happened, of course, is that the military has simply stopped counting suicide attempts, and calling them other things. Well, three of the Orwellianisms managed to work last year, and a fourth this year. That's around 1% of the current detainee population. Given that, unlike the usual super-max prison, where those held have been tried and convicted of something and have a determinate sentence (even if its a long one, or a life sentence), the GTMO detainees have simply been determined guilty by executive fiat, and may face life, or may be released tomorrow, again, by executive fiat and whim. And unlike the usual super-max, they are subject to the kind of officially sanctioned abuse and torture, which, stateside, some lawyer and judge might find offends the Eighth Amendment.

No matter. A "cultural advisor" is on hand to make sure that the prisoner's body is treated with the kind of respect that the prisoner was denied while he was alive (doubtless using protocols written by former chaplain Capt. James Yee, interviewed here.)

And so it goes. Another day at the office, if the office is Joint Task Force Guantanamo. This ongoing stain on our nation's integrity continues. Our friends at Cage Prisoners count this as day 1967 of illegal imprisonment at GTMO; my Bush Countdown Calendar tells me we have 600 days left of this Administration.

Deep sighs all around.

His earlier interviews are linked below.
Readers interested in legal issues and related matters associated with the "war on terror" may also find talking dog blog interviews with attorneys Tina Foster, Brent Mickum, Marc Falkoff H. Candace Gorman, Eric Freedman, Michael Ratner, Thomas Wilner, Jonathan Hafetz, Joshua Denbeaux, Rick Wilson, Neal Katyal, Joshua Colangelo Bryan, Baher Azmy, and Joshua Dratel (representing Guantanamo detainees and others held in "the war on terror"), with attorneys Donna Newman and Andrew Patel (representing "unlawful combatant" Jose Padilila), with Dr. David Nicholl, who spearheaded an effort among international physicians protesting force-feeding of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, with physician and bioethicist Dr. Steven Miles on medical complicity in torture, with law professor and former Clinton Administration Ambassador-at-large for war crimes matters David Scheffer, with former Guantanamo detainees Moazzam Begg and Shafiq Rasul , with former Guantanamo Bay Chaplain James Yee, with former Guantanamo Army Arabic linguist Erik Saar, with law professor and former Army J.A.G. officer Jeffrey Addicott, with law professor and Coast Guard officer Glenn Sulmasy, with author and geographer Trevor Paglen and with author and journalist Stephen Grey on the subject of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program, and with journalist and author David Rose on Guantanamo related issues to be of interest.
An additional interview with Robert D. Rachlin, who represents two Gitmo detainees, is here.