Adnan Farham Abdul Latif, a 32-year-old Yemeni citizen, was a Guantanamo detainee since 2002. Latif was found dead in his prison cell last weekend. Latif had no medical problems, and was found unconscious and unresponsive in his cell Saturday afternoon. Efforts were made to revive him, and he was rushed to the hospital at the base and soon after pronounced dead. An autopsy was conducted on Sunday, but the results have not been released at this time.
It was recently disclosed that he had been cleared for release three years ago by the Obama administration task force that concluded that his detention was no longer necessary. This conclusion requires a unanimous vote of all U.S. intelligence agencies. Pentagon officials had recommended Latif be released as early as 2004, but he was caught up in frivolous legal battles over the status of detainees.
Latif spent over ten years of his life in Guantanamo Bay and was never charged with a single crime or accused of violating a single law. He was brought to the prison in 2002 after being turned over by Pakistani police to the U.S. military following the invasion of Afghanistan. Latif had said he suffered from brain injuries as a result of car accident in Yemen and had gone to Pakistan for free medical help.
In 2002, U.S. military officials originally claimed that Latif had been asked to leave Yemen by an al-Qaida facilitator named Abu Khalud. He also allegedly received military training in a camp in Afghanistan. However, there is no corroborated evidence that Latif ever met Khalud or participated in combatant/terrorist training.
Latif endured tremendous physical and mental suffering while in Guantanamo Bay. He was often heavily sedated by the guards and put into solitary confinement. Latif said, “This prison is a piece of hell that kills everything, the spirit, the body, and kicks away all the symptoms of health from them.” He also said that he would take any opportunity he could get to commit suicide.
Latif’s death is the ninth at Guantanamo Bay since the prison was opened in January 2002 and the third since last year. “The only detainees who have been released from Gitmo in the last two years have been in caskets.” This shows just how urgent the matter of closing the prison is.
Should the prison automatically be closed after this incident? Is the government deliberately tying up these investigations with frivolous legal matters? Do they have some hidden objective? Should the people responsible for not releasing Latif in 2009 be prosecuted? What does this say about the United States’ legal system as a whole?