WikiLeaks: No Special Treatment for Non-Compos-Mentis Gitmo Detainees

GuantanamoWe’re honored to have Michael Busch dissecting the latest WikiLeaks document dump for Focal Points. This is the forty-seventh in the series.

Perhaps the most troubling information confirmed thus far by the “Guantanamo Files” released by WikiLeaks Sunday has been the degree to which mental health disorders were recognized, and in many cases ignored, by American officials overseeing “unlawful combatants” imprisoned in the Cuban detention facility. According to the Guardian, the new WikiLeaks cache reveals that nearly one hundred prisoners, almost one in seven, “were classified by the US army as having psychiatric illnesses including severe depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.”

A particularly disturbing case of mental illness is described in the file of Algerian detainee Abdul Raham Houari, who was brought to the Gitmo detention facility in 2001 at the age of 21. The document notes that Houari had a demonstrated “history of non-compliance and aggressiveness,” behavior that was clearly the result more of psychological distress than willful insubordination. Brigadier General Jay Hood, who authored the Houari report, indicates as much in his brief history of the detainee:

24 year old Algerian with history of significant penetrating head trauma in 2001 with resultant blindness in right eye and shrapnel injuries to the frontal portion of his brain, causing difficulty with speech and understanding as well as loss of inhibitions, e.g. disrobing in public, urinating on floor, etc.

Not only that, but Houari “had ongoing behavioral services interventions, is currently on zyprexa, an anti-psychotic” and was “mobile yet has slowed motor functions and generally needs assistance with caring for himself and supervision of his safety.” His behavior was not merely uninhibited, but outrageous. “He has been informed to keep his clothes on and heas repeatedly disregarded those order and his stood in his cell naked. Detainee has many instances of masturbating in front of others without the slightest bit of self-coconsciousness,” behavior that led Hood to the conclusion that

Based on the detainee’s health status, intelligence [medium] value and [low] risk level, JTF GTMO recommends this detainees be released or transferred to the control of another country for continued detention.

Hood’s recommendation, however, was ignored for another four years. Houari was eventually repatriated to Algeria, where he was acquitted of terrorism charges late last year, but not before he made a series of attempts against his own life.