Computer Irregularities at Guantanamo Taint Investigation into Detainee Deaths
An examination of documents related to a number of presumed suicides at Guantanamo over a six-year period reveals repeated tampering with the computer system that is supposed to monitor detainees at the Cuba-based U.S. military prison.
The recurrent tampering appears to represent a pattern of interference with investigations into the deaths of half a dozen Guantanamo prisoners. In one case, officials with the Joint Detention Group, Guantanamo’s guard force, apparently misrepresented computer operations to Navy investigators in an effort to stymie an investigation into irregularities that occurred.
Guantanamo’s Detainee Information Management System (DIMS) is a facility-wide computer system. According to a 2012 Army report, DIMS “is the primary tool used to track day-to-day information about detainees, and is made up of electronic entries regarding each detainee.” DIMS entries on each prisoner are supposed to be logged at the beginning of each guard shift, and at a minimum hourly thereafter.
Between 2006 and 2012, in almost every instance when a detainee was found dead at Guantanamo, computer logs that would have documented guard, medical official or detainee activities or locations either went missing, presented evidence that contradicted witness statements, or standard operating procedures (SOP) pertaining to their use were not followed.
Indeed, Army officials found that failure to follow numerous camp SOPs contributed to the death of Yemeni detainee Adnan Latif in 2012. More particularly, they lamented that failure to follow DIMS protocols meant they could not reliably ascertain the timeline of events surrounding his death.
The documentation of repeated problems with Guantanamo’s computer system was drawn from various Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests involving inquiries into the deaths of six different detainees, including documents from both the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and official Army investigations.