Excerpts from The Guantánamo "Suicides": A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle by Scott Horton, Harper's March 2010
by Winsip Custer, CPW News Service
Most Americans have little knowledge of the June 9, 2006 triple suicides of Guantanamo detainees, but the shocking story was presented in Harper's March 2010 publication stating:
According to the NCIS documents, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and T-shirts and tied it to the top of his cell’s eight-foot-high steel-mesh wall. Each prisoner was able somehow to bind his own hands, and, in at least one case, his own feet, then stuff more rags deep down into his own throat. We are then asked to believe that each prisoner, even as he was choking on those rags, climbed up on his washbasin, slipped his head through the noose, tightened it, and leapt from the washbasin to hang until he asphyxiated. The NCIS report also proposes that the three prisoners, who were held in non-adjoining cells, carried out each of these actions almost simultaneously.
This incredulous example of prisoner mistreatment that eclipses the Abu Ghraib story in its sheer brutality is explained:
One of the most intriguing aspects of this case concerns the use of Camp No. Under George W. Bush, the CIA created an archipelago of secret detention centers that spanned the globe, and authorities at these sites deployed an array of Justice Department–sanctioned torture techniques—including waterboarding, which often entails inserting cloth into the subject’s mouth—on prisoners they deemed to be involved in terrorism. The presence of a black site at Guantánamo has long been a subject of speculation among lawyers and human-rights activists, and the experience of Sergeant Hickman and other Guantánamo guards compels us to ask whether the three prisoners who died on June 9 were being interrogated by the CIA, and whether their deaths resulted from the grueling techniques the Justice Department had approved for the agency’s use—or from other tortures lacking that sanction.
The Harper's story by Scott Horton lays open the possibility that it was not just CIA misdeeds, but the evolution of Guantanamo Bay prisoner maintenance may include the gelatinous assembly of U.S. Special Forces elites into what has become known as JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command:
Complicating these questions is the fact that Camp No might have been controlled by another authority, the Joint Special Operations Command, which Bush’s defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had hoped to transform into a Pentagon version of the CIA. Under Rumsfeld’s direction, JSOC began to take on many tasks traditionally handled by the CIA, including the housing and interrogation of prisoners at black sites around the world. The Pentagon recently acknowledged the existence of one such JSOC black site, located at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, and other suspected sites, such as Camp Nama in Baghdad, have been carefully documented by human-rights researchers.
Horton's story in Harper's reveals a program of cover-up that has traditionally been carried out in CIA circles to throw suspicion away from blatant, intentional and orchestrated human rights abuses that breed resentment and foster anti-American sentiments that provide the basis for the continuing evolution of the "racket of war" not unlike those exposed by the Church Commission. Horton's article continues:
In the weeks following the 2006 deaths, the Justice Department decided to use the suicide narrative as leverage against the Guantánamo prisoners and their troublesome lawyers, who were pressing the government to justify its long-term imprisonment of their clients.
In a world increasingly concerned about terrorist actions in the developed nations, the Guantanamo triple suicides raise the issue of mistreatment and cover-up of death with a suicide narrative like those believed by many to have been used not against foreign terrorists but against peace loving and loyal U.S. citizens like Mark Lomardi and Patrick Carr in 2000, Gary Webb in 2004 and of Col. Theodore "Ted" Westhusing in 2005.
Note: During the Bay of Pigs, Guantanamo's top intelligence officers were USN Commander Harold "Hal" Feeney and Ens. John H. "Jack" Modesett, both from Corpus Christi, Texas (Harold Feeney, "Bay of Pigs Remembered," NIP Quarterly, Fall 1988). Modesett's post-Guantanamo experiences will be extensively covered in the 1992 book by Peter Brewton, The Mafia, CIA and George Bush.
In 2014 two reporters from Miami New Times published an article on the connection of Texas race car drivers, Bill & Don Whittington, to Guantanamo. The Whittingtons were convicted of drug smuggling along with Corpus Christi resident and son of the Levitz Furniture Company founder, his heir, Gary Levitz. One of the authors on the Guantanamo story was Terrence McCoy who has since become a James Aronson Award recipient for the Washington Post. McCoy has also written for The Atlantic as a Gordon Grey Fellow at Columbia University's School of Journalism. McCoy has written about the impact of the ripoff of structured settlements for lead paint poisoning in Baltimore, a contrived health epidemic that affected the life of Baltimore police brutality victim, Freddie Gray. The story of lead in fueling war profits and the U.S. military industry's use of lead in ancillary products is as sordid as big tobacco's connections to public health hazards and is even related to the family of Scott Shuger the Slate.com journalist who wrote IGNORAD, a scathing critique of NORAD and the U.S. preparedness in confronting the 911 attack on the World Trade Center. Shuger also died a mysterious death in California.
|Click Above for 1997 IRE Debate|
Lead was incorporated in U.S. paint just as it was as a gasoline additive for fifty years after it was banned as a health hazard in Europe. Baltimore was home to the Brown's Merchant Shot Tower where the first Fugitive Slave Law test cast of James Hamlet was focused. James Hamlet worked at the Brown's Tower making lead musket balls. Not far away was "Misery Plantation" where Frederick Douglass was "rendition" before being returned to the South and before he became the leading spokesman for abolition of slavery. "Misery Plantation was purchased by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who also co-owned with CBS anchorman, Dan Rather, the Tecolote Ranch in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Lead paint was the subject of a Winsip Custer report linking its use to the Cold War farcical use of white leaded paint as a hedge against nuclear attack at the same time the U.S. promoted the MAD Theory of "mutually assured destruction." Was Terrence McCoy's upward mobility following the Miami New Times article on Guantanamo the bridling of a truly probing and investigative mind? Gary Webb's treatment by the Washington Post and Columbia Journalism's power elites and his warning about what can happen to bright and probing award winning reporters would so indicate! "McCoy's future as an investigative journalist will depend on his willingness to follow his editor's dictates at the Washington Post as have Coll, Leen and Loeb," said one Washington Post critic.
Peter Brewton's investigation into the Terlingua Ranch connection to John H. "Jack" Modesett and Great Western Corporation was confirmed by author Jack Stone and by Securities & Exchange Commission records. Peter Brewton admitted that he missed this important connection when writing his 1992 book on the S&L scandal's connection to the Iran-Contra operation in Texas.
|from: Every Man Dies, Not Every Man Lives by Jack R. Stone,|
iUniverse Press, 2010, p. 99.
John R. "Jack" Modesett and Harold "Hal" Feeney's business relationship included Great Western Corporation and the Terlingua property that Brewton had identified dated to the early 1960's with development in the 70's, but Brewton will establish through multiple interviews in West Texas a relationship with Modesett that extends a decade or more longer. He interviewed the Terlingua airport builder as well.
Harvie Branscomb was the son of the former Chancellor of Vanderbilt University.....Cornelius Vanderbilt's school..... whose ancestors include both CNN's news correspondent, Anderson Cooper, and Hollywood director of the Rather/Mapes film Truth released in October 2015, James Vanderbilt. Branscomb was also a trustee of the Una Chapman Cox Foundation that funds educational and recreational venues for career U.S. State Department professionals. Harvie Branscomb, Charles Thomasson, heir of the Caterpillar Company, Peter Holt and newspaper publisher, Ed Harte, who together with his brother, Houston Harriman Harte, had donated 66,000 acres near Terlingua, Texas in Big Bend National Forest to the state of Texas along with $46 million to the Texas A&M University for ocean research, had all been Commodores of the Corpus Christi Yacht Club.
Following his tenure in Houston investigating the Harris County Medical Examiner's crime lab, the leading prosecutor in the Iran-Contra investigation, Michael Bromwich, would become the nation's chief watchman over the offshore drilling initiatives that heavily impact the Texas Gulf Coast, but also Louisiana.... including the Deep Water Horizon debacle. Author, Jack Stone, had been the longtime head of the Texas Departments of Parks and Wildlife with its close association to fishing, game, drilling and wilderness land use like that influenced by developments controlled by Modesett and his associates at Great Western and often with the necessary support of the Army Corp of Engineers.
|Great Western and Terlingua Ranch Co. shared the address at 200 Wilson Tower. |
According to the SEC record above and John Stone's book, Harvie Branscomb,
Charles W. Thomasson, John H. "Jack" Modesett and John E. Nisbet, VP, were
primary personalities in the companies. Peter Brewton's son, Mark Brewton, an attorney, would
go to work for Harvie Branscomb's San Antonio law firm beginning in 2003.
(Article above from SEC News Digest, Issue No. 70-66, April 6, 1970, p. 5).
|Click box for link to Robert Bryce's book Pipe Dreams.|
This region of West Texas from San Antonio to El Paso that produced FBI Director, William Sessions, also delivered William B. Hurd as Texas' first black Congressman. Hurd had been the student body president at Texas A&M when in 1999 its bonfire collapsed killing twelve including eleven students in what some called a "bonfire of the vanities". Hurd spent nine years in the CIA and then went to work for the Crumpton Group created by Hank Crumpton, also CIA. Crumpton was the U.S. State Department's coordinator for counter terrorism appointed by Condaleezza Rice. "With these connections to both the CIA and FBI focused on this region of West Texas you'd think that a Mena-type airport there would have been shut down by the FBI who we always assumed along with the ATF and the like protected the homeland, but as we learned with the quick exit of the Bin Ladens out of the U.S. after 911 and the 1992 stand down on the FinCEN investigation into Saudi influence peddling the U.S. and this region is filled with a whole lot more than rattlesnakes. The CIA trumps the FBI even within in the U.S. borders," said Fabian Colbachi an independent U.S. investigative reporter who has followed the story. Colbachi has expressed special concern since the passing in 1982 the Intelligence Officers Identity Disclosure Act sponsored by Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen that makes it a crime to talk about the CIA even when the information is already in the public domain. "Move over Joseph Goebbels," said Colbachi.
Colbachi says that the history of the 23rd Congressional District of Texas is the key to understanding the airport at Terlingua. From 1967 to 1985 Abraham Kazen was the U.S. Congressman. Kazen was not of Hispanic origin, but Lebanese from Laredo, Texas. "This region has had organic ties beyond the Hispanic culture directly to the Middle East as evidenced by the Chagra family from El Paso, hell, the richest man in Mexico is Lebanese, Carlos Slim is like Kazen, a Lebanese Maronite Catholic, the Chagras were Lebanese and in their case the weapons and drug smugglers who hired Charles Harrelson to kill San Antonio's Judge John Howland Wood on his driveway on May 29, 1979. The Republican suburbs of San Antonio have historically provided the bulk of the Republican votes for this district as evidenced by the later election of Henry Bonilla who is now with the Normandy Group along with Louis Dupart who was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs at the Department of Defense for Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. Bonilla took heat for proposing that the grand jury indictment of Tom DeLay didn't matter and that he should keep his position as Speaker of the House. DeLay's brother would be working to merge the Union Pacific Railroad and the Southern Pacific Railroads over criticism of a monopoly with the history of these two rail lines going back to the Civil War and the battle over the first rail route to the Pacific and the China Trade beyond. "The Northern victors kept the rail across the Midwest to the Northeast and stalled the Southern route that Jeff Davis had laid out in the 1850's so there it is over a hundred years later being consolidated with help from Randy DeLay, Tom's brother," said Colbachi. This wide open region has a long history that seemingly enticed novelist Cormac McCormack to write of it in No Country For Old Men just as he had done in Blood Meridian with its focus on a corrupt Judge Holden and the real historic figure and a brutal scalp hunter from San Antonio, John Joel Glanton," said Colbachi. "Congressman Kazen's brother, George Kazen, was U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Texas who was succeeded by Corpus Christi's Judge Hayden Head and Houston's Judge David Hittner who was assigned to hear the testimony of Robert Corson, son-in-law of Walter Mischer, whom Brewton claims also controlled the Terlingua airport and notes that Corson died in route to the Hittner court before he could give testimony....kind of like Barry Seal in Baton Rouge," said Colbachi. "When it was brought to Brewton's attention that it was not Walter Mischer or his son-in-law, Robert Corson, who actually controlled the secret CIA landing strip at Terlingua/Lajitas, Texas, but Great Western's galaxy of personalities....Branscomb, Modesett, Feeney, Nisbet and Thomasson....Brewton responded "How did I miss that?" In fairness, Jack Stone's book had not been written until 2010, though a simple analysis of the Texas incorporation records for Great Western would have, should have, been made showing the obvious ties.
Brewton went even further in supplementing Gene Wheaton's validation (p. 91) about the Terlingua airport like that in Mena, Arkansas. "A West Texas law enforcement officer, a longtime federal agent who patrolled the Rio Grande area for years, former Pentagon criminal investigator Gene Wheaton, and veteran CIA contract pilot Robert 'Tosh' Plumlee all have confirmed Brenneke's description of the purpose of the landing strip: a CIA transshipment point for guns and drugs into and out of Latin America." Brenneke is Richard Breneke who was a key witness in the Iran-Contra and Kerry Commission hearing, but there were also two West Texas police officers who feared for their jobs at the time who asked for anonymity, but confirmed that the Terlingua airport was a secret CIA base. No one has ever challenged Brewton's research on the Terlingua base and its ties to the dark world of secret U.S. drug and weapons shipments like that at Mena, Arkansas run by Barry Seal, but Brewton does not mention the ties of the secret Terlingua, Texas CIA airport to Harvie Branscomb who was, according to the documentation available, inclusive of Branscomb's ties to Modesett whom Brewton covers thoroughly in The Mafia, CIA and George Bush.
Brewton's report of Ed Baker's death by automobile fire brought out the connection of two other automobile fire deaths related to both Corpus Christi's and Houston's dark alliances, Patrick Carr and Sean Dubose, which Winsip Custer covered in the article Truth In Search of A Unicorn.
The head of JSOC, Admiral William McRaven, was the subject of Jeremy Scahill's documentary Dirty Wars and is now the Chancellor of the University of Texas.
In 2004, Dan Rather and Mary Mapes reported on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. At the time, Rather co-owned with Rumsfeld the Tecolote or "Owl" Ranch in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Rumsfeld also owned the Misery Plantation in Maryland where the abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, had been "renditioned". Also in 2004 Dan Rather and Mary Mapes delivered on CBS' 60 Minutes what became known as "Rathergate" the subject of the 2015 film Truth by Director, James Vanderbilt.
Rather and Mapes' story, released on October 16, 2015 received criticism from several quarters, not least of which was the father of a young man who died near Houston's Ellington Field on the anniversary of Gary Webb's resignation from the San Jose Mercury News and Webb's two-shot to the head "suicide" on December 10, 2004. The young man, same name as the son of the key witness in the "Rathergate" story, Mrs. Marian Carr Knox, Pat Carr, died near Ellington Field on December 10, 2000 after having worked in Austin, Texas with the company of Dan Rather's neice, Rebecca Rather.
Scott Horton presented an interview on the three simultaneous 2006 Guantanamo "suicides" on KAOS Radio, Austin, Texas an alternative anti-war media station in Austin that was shut down by the FCC for exceeding its power limits. Allowed to reopen, the anti-war radio station with the seemingly incongruent call letters "KAOS" had to limit its broadcasting to 100 yards from its antenna. Appearances on KAOS would, therefore, provide the image of solidarity with the anti-war movement, but with minimum effect.
Horton's work on Guantanamo was assisted by the Seton Hall Law School in Newark, New Jersey. Seton Hall is the alma mater of Judge George J. Terwilliger who was Edwin Meece's primary assistant in containing the damage of the Iran-Contra debacle particularly in Jeff Leen's home town of Miami. Seton Hall is also the alma mater of Dennis Kozlowski the imprisoned head of Tyco who had succeeded at Tyco the husband of Director of the Houston Contemporary Art Museum's where Mark Lombardi worked. Lombardi, the graphic artist who traced the Iran-Contra connections and died of a self-inflicted hanging like the Guatanamo trio, worked with the "father of post-modern literature" whose widow became Mrs. Marion Knox Barthelme Fort, marrying John Franklin Fort, III, the ex-CEO of Tyco. Most recently Tyco's former CEO, now CEO of Dupont, Ed Breen, has announced the merger of DuPont and Dow Chemical, both companies with strong ties to the Texas Petrochemical industry and military munnitions production.
Horton is an attorney and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University School of Law, on the campus with the former Washington Post Editor, Steve Coll, now the Henry Luce Professor of Journalism and Chair of the Columbia Journalism School, a colleague of Horton, who at the Washington Post oversaw the work of Jeff Leen and Vernon Loeb, the Metro Editor. Loeb's WP articles included the embellished coverage on the Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch stories. Horton's appearance on Democracy Now with the CIA's chief legal counsel, John Rizzo, was, according to Fabian Colbachi, a "non-debate debate." "I don't really know where Horton stands on the subject of CIA misdeeds," said Colbachi noting his writing for Lewis Lapham whose brother was also a CIA lawyer and attorney for Adolfo Calero.
Vernon Loeb, now the Editor of the Houston Chronicle, also co-wrote with Paula Broadwell, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. Coll, Leen by association with Coll and Loeb, Horton and McCoy are now associated with Colombia University with its longstanding connections to the evolution of "applied psychology", "applied sociology" and what is now, quite obviously, "applied journalism".
Jeff Leen and the University of Missouri's Professor Emeritus of Journalism, Steve Weinberg, led the 1997 debate between Jeff Leen and Gary Webb, author of Dark Alliance who resigned from the San Jose Mercury News on December 10, 1997 and died from two gunshot wounds to the head on December 10, 2004 at his home in California. The medical examiner ruled his death a suicide. His story became the subject of the 2015 film, Kill The Messenger.
Scott Horton is also a contributing editor to Harper's, the oldest continuously printed magazine in the U.S. whose former editor, Lewis Lapham, is the producer of the documentary, The American Ruling Class. Lewis Lapham is the brother of Tony Lapham, the former chief legal council for the Central Intelligence Agency and who following his work at CIA became the defense attorney for Iran-Contra figure Adolfo Calero.
Lewis Lapham, whose grandfather was the Mayor of San Francisco and whose family owned the American-Hawaiian Steamship line which like AIG's founder Cornelius Vander Starr and the Pacific Mail & Steamship Company serviced the U.S. China Trade. Lewis Lapham is an erudite ruling class insider, but often unbridled and sharply focused critic of U.S. imperialism whose mailing lists from both Harper's and Lapham's Quarterly could likely provide a solid accounting of the present order's left and right ideologues of its well-managed dialectic. Lapham, now with Lapham's Quarterly, is particularly outspoken in his appreciation of the historic quality of Harper's stories. Those stories included the first serialized publication of Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick about the mindless pursuit of a gigantic white whale that leads to great calamity for the guilty and innocent alike while reminding Melville's New England benefactors and readers that the smallest and largest ships never sink without the captain's quarters. -WC