Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

GITMO: Explanation doesn't add up [ Urine in ventilation ]

One of the "explanations" coming out doesn't make sense. In fact, the story seems akin to the JFK magic bullet theory.

This note explores the absurdity.

One problem the detainees had was urine getting thrown on them. [If you want to read more about reactions to this incident go here.]

One explanation for this ["how urine got on a detainee and the Koran"] is that a "soldier went outside to urinate. In the wind, the urine got blown into the ventilation system, then on the prisoner and Koran."

At first blush, this sounds like a plausible story.

Unfortunately, it doesn't add up.

There are a couple of things to consider in the analysis: Gravity, vaporization of water, droplet velocity, temperature, the distance from mid-waist, and the projectile patterns of water droplets, and how heating and air conditioning systems work.

Overall, I suspect that the incident was not isolated; and that the actual cause of the problem is something else.


Draw a circle. Place a dot in the middle of that circle. That is the release point of the water.

Now draw an arbitrary arrow through that circle in any direction. That is your wind-component.

Ask yourself: if you know it is windy and you have to relieve yourself, do you stand adjacent to the wind, into the wind, back to the wind.

Now ask, how do you position yourself relative to a wall or building?

Why would someone position themselves "accidentally":
[a] facing a wall
[b] facing a vent
[c] back to the wind
. . . but so positioned so that "accidentally" urine flows from mid-waist, along a defined path, and "accidentally" gets blown into a vent.

Answer: They don't install vents that face the prevailing wind. They place vents that are away from or perpendicular to the wind.

Which way is the air form "the vent" going?

Is it releasing air; or is it taking air in?

If it's taking air in, but its facing the wind, why isn't there a filter?

If it's releasing air, why wouldn't the net force of the liquid, with a cross flow of the air, then offset by the net outflow of the releasing air scatter the liquid on the side of the wall, or along the side of the vent shaft?


First, let's consider the average temperature in GITMO and the conditions the personnel were exposed.

It is likely that the "urine on detainee" incident occurred at a time when it was somewhat warm, as opposed to cold. Why? Because "the story" was that the guard "went outside" to urinate.

If it was cold, the vapor would have been much less particalized, lowering the probability of anything getting into the vent.

Magic Urine

Secondly, consider the arcing path from mid-waist, then supposedly into the vent, then continuing along some unspecified path, then into the cell.

For the sake of simplicity, let's simply call "the urine" a liquid. As any liquid moves from mid-waist-height, the only force that it has acting on it is gravity.

Let's supposed for the moment that the guard actually did urinate in the vent "by accident."

Could the "urine in vent" have been by accident? Well, consider that when water from midwaist falls to earth, it at most will go no further than the height.

This is to say that under normal conditions, water released at 2.5 meters, will at most travel horizontally no more than 2.5 meters.

If you look at the cross section of the possible pathways from 2.5 meters, and then do a time-phase or 3-d cut of that possible cross section, you'll have a cone with the tip of the cone at 2.5 meters, then spreading down and out.

This forms the possible and most likely target range of the liquid as it falls from 2.5 meters down to earth.

Small problem. 2.5 meters is max. The actual height is most likely in the .75 meter range as the starting position, which would then further narrow the possible cross section, area, and possible width and dimensions of this cone.

Further, we are asked to believe that somehow liquid departed from this cone starting at .75 and then traveled horizontally.

However, the only force acting on the liquid is gravity. Indeed, if the ventilation system was working, then as the liquid entered into the ventilation, it would not stick together, but then form another cone starting at the entry point, and similarly fanning out.

The only way that liquid could first depart from one trajectory, on a vertical cone; and then transition into a horizontal cone; then recombine [so that the prisoner would know what hit him or the Koran], was if there were two outside forces.

The first force would have to transition the liquid from a primarily up-down orientation along the y-axis; and then the force would have to revector the liquid into a horizontal x-axis.

That's the first intervention.

The second intervention would be to defy the cone from .75 meters, and recombine it into a single horizontal plane.

The third force would then have to take that horizontal plane, and once again defy the cone, and then re-vector it directly into the cell so that the prisoner would not simply "get a feeling" but actually know that the liquid was in deed urine.

What we don't know:

- The height of the end-opening of the vent into the cell. If the ending height was anything outside the initial cone starting at .75 meters, then we know that some third force would have to have intervened to cause the urine to go from .75 meters, rise up some shaft, recombine, and then exit the ventilation shaft and enter the cell. I find such a chain of events to be not only implausible, but is sufficient reason to doubt the initial story.

The other problem

The other problem with this urine-from-soldier-into-ventilation theory, is that when the prisoners were being held in the summer. Recall that the prisoners were being held either outside in open air [without ventilation], or they were inside.

If they were inside, then we have to understand the construction of the cell, the placement of the "ventilation shaft" [if there is one], and get the exact height.

Suppose at the extreme, the ventilation is at the ceiling. How does the liquid go from a vertical cone starting at .75, and then travel up . . . all without scattering?

At the other end of the spectrum suppose the ventilation was at the floor. How does urine go from a vertical y-axis cone, then enter the ventilation, and the exit in an x-axis.

If the urine was indeed falling, by the time it "hit the exit shaft at the bottom of the cell" it would have essentially no horizontal component in the liquid. In turn, we can only speculated how the urine at the final point would then suddenly transition, without any outside force, in a horizontal way, but do so in a ay that recombined the liquid into a discrete pattern so that the prisoner would know that it was urine.

At either extreme, the gravity component doesn't explain how the urine moved along three different vectors and then recombined.

What actually happened

I suspect this conduct is not isolated. Recall, Gitmo had rules about prisoner conduct. I suspect that the guards had sufficient power an independence to do what they want; and "their way" of payback [for whatever reason] was simply to urinate in various holes, knowing full well that it would fall directly on the prisoners.

However, the actual problem could be that the waste buckets form an adjacent cell was deliberately poured into the ventilation shaft as a method of aggravating the prisoners.

Indeed, if the "guard's story" is true, [that he urinated outside], then it's likely that the detainees didn't have running water and no toilets inside their own cells.

Recall, that the "story" is that someone came forward and admitted to this. Small problem. Why would the guard "admit" to anything? The Army's "way" of dealing with this is to lie, blame the detainee, call them crazy, and yell at them more.

Rather, the issue isn't that "someone" came forward; but that there are other compalints warranting an investigatoin. Keep in mind, most of the reports the FBI got they didn't look into.

SO why is this one special? Answer: Because it isn't isolated. Rather, the 'story' has been fabricated to explain away the now discovered abuse.

There is no single person here. Rather, if this "person" truly was at fault, why are they admitting so? Recall, that the goal hasn't been to be accountable; but to threaten pepole to be quiet.

So why would a guard [who knows about these threats to be quiet] come forward and volunteer the informaotin unless the guard/s knew that others knew the pattern was not isolated.

If it was "Betweeen the gaurd and the detainee," the guards are given deference. So, there must ahve been "someting more" than a single compalint and a single gaurd; if there was only one gaurd, they could be quiet, say notthing, and not subject themselves to any treatement.

Which means: That the detainees [plural] had enough common statements among themsevles [meaning multiple incidients] to tilt the investigation to the favor of the non-guards.

Thus, we conclude that the pattern of conduct was not this once incident; but there were series of incidents that tilted away from the guard's favor and they were not able to lie. The real story is: "What else" was going on that, despite all the possible coverups, would get over the deferred-decion by FBI-NCIS not to investigate and still make the outside investigators have enough on the guard where they broke down?

That is what is not released.

More information is needed

I suspect the conduct is not isolated. I also suspect that the "guard" is a fabrication. I don't believe that someone who would go out of their way to be this abusive [and not be on tape] would then admit to wrong doing.

Rather, I believe that the guard management, knowing full well that these abuse and prisoner mistreatment incidents [plural] were real, had to invent some sort of story.

I also suspect that there is no "single guard" that came forward. Rather, this is a story created, and documented in various e-mails. I also believe that on various Blackberries, there are records of outside investigators into this matter.

I would encourage outside investigators to find the exact name of the prison guard who did this; and talk to other guards to find out how widespread the sewage-problem was at Guantanamo.

We would also need to see the documented records detailing the discipline of this guard; and ensure that the guard is a real person, not some fictional character invented to explain away pervasive conduct.

I''m also not convinced these matters were "carefully looked into." We know that many cases of abuse were ignored; and that when the FBI was brought in, many incident were never looked into but closed.


Prisoner mistreatment is widespread in US prisons. The misconduct occurs in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

Small problem for the guards. This misconduct can not longer be explained away as legitimate payback. Rather, these are matters of criminal law and war crimes.


Get signed statements under penalty of perjury for what happened.

Get a physical layout and description of the cell from the detainee. Get specifics on exactly where objects were located in the cell: Where the urine landed; the approximate height of the cell; the location of the ventilation shaft.

Also, get feedback from other detainees on the number of "urine spills in cell"-incidents.

Ask the detainees whether there was any "ventilation shaft" and whether there was any air, at any time, coming out of the shaft.

Ask the detainees how far the shaft was off the ground; and how far the liquid traveled from the wall/side of cell to where it landed on the ground or Koran.

Summary Analysis

If the detainees say that the distance from the ventilation shaft to the ground was greater than .75 meters; ask the detainees whether they were underground, had windows.

Ask them whether they ever head people walking around on the roof of the cell; or whether this cell was underground.

If the distance from the ventilation shaft on the side of the cell wall to the ground is greater than .75 meters, ask them again about any air. If there was no forcible air coming out of the ventilation shaft, ask them whether the cells were hot during the day and cold during the night.

If the distance from the ventilation shaft exit [on the side of the cell] was greater than .75 meters, ask them how the urine landed on the Koran. Was it a fine mist, was it clumped together in a pool, or was it a stream of urine.

The goal is to get a "most probable layout" of the cell, the method by which the urine entered the cell, and the most likely cone and vectors and distances required.

Ask the detainees how they know it was urine. Was it the smell, or was it the color? If it was the color, we have to ask how vaporized urine would have sufficient "stickiness" to travel along a cone and then recombine.

Ask the detainees how often this occurred. Was it a one-time thing or something that was a pattern. Did the incident tend to happen after the guards had been disciplined for mistreating a prisoner [this was the guards way of payback to the detainee for telling outsiders what the guards had done]?


I remain skeptical about the American's story about what would explain the urine in the cell. I believe what actually happened was that this was something the guards learned to do.

What is striking is that despite the "rules of the camp" [another matter], the guards appear to have been using this as a discipline method.

Yet, at the same time we were told time and time again, "we treat them well" there is no torture. Yet, the videos show otherwise.

At the same time, the camp also was using "honey on bread" as a reward. Why would they not use these methods, as opposed to urine in face?

Moreover, many of the camp guards also thought the detainees had no intelligence value. The detainees understandably stood up for themselves when mistreated. More understandable when we realize that Pakistanis sold them to the Americans; and the Americans also moved the prisoners on Gulfstreams to face torture.

Next step

After outside personnel are confident they have a good understanding of the physical dimensions of the cell and the distance between the floor, vent, and impact point, then it will be time to get sworn statements from camp management:

  • What happened

  • What the size of the cell was

  • Who urinated

  • Documentation that disciple occurred

  • The exact name, service number and identifying information

  • Copies of their discipline file kept at command along with the discipline

  • Whether they declined UCMJ in writing

  • Notes and interview statements by NCIS and/or FBI in this case

  • Copies of the workorders to create the cells

  • The name of the Senate Staffer who visited from the NH Senator's office and visited in November 2002

    IN short, it's likely that should this get looked into, and there is a real problem, DoD would get contractors to reconstruct a facility to resemble "their version" of what happened.

    Thus, it will be important to get from DoD, in writing, copies of the actual contract specifications of those cells and compare them with the detainee versions. Look for the following:

  • Inconsistencies on the ventilation height

  • Changes to the cell dimensions

    I suspect that should they fabricated documents, contracts, specifications, or photos, it is not unlikely that actors and or US servicemen would be dressed up as detainees to give the impression of authenticity.

    At that juncture, you'll want to compare the angles of the shadows with what the detainees remember about the shadows on the walls. It is likely that the fabricated cells [for purposes of reinventing the story] will be slightly off, especially given the change in latitudes from the Caribbean to somewhere else in someone isolated area of the California desert.

    You'll want to compare the angles of the shadows at Gitmo in BBC photos, and compare them with other photos provided by DoD.

    Remember all the analysis that went into exploring whether the moon landings were faked? The same kind scrutiny needs to be put on DoD and DoJ.

    Remember, the issue here is one thing: War crimes. They will and already have shown they will lie to avoid letting this spread.

    Look for funds that are siphoned off the SECDEF's special security fund and have been channeled through a contractor to a production company.

    Here's a hint: Cheney's son in law is with Latham and Watkins; that firm worked on DoJ's transition. Guess whose husband has a production company?

    That's right: The same lady who was providing legal advice at the RNC in NYC: Here husband.

    Her name is Elizabeth Carmen, formerly Elizabeth Marcelle Apisson. She is now assigned to the DOJ Legislative Liasion. Her husband, or someone like him, could easily be called in to "make convenient photos." He owns a production company in Los Angeles and did work at the RNC Convention in NYC.

    Do I know this? Of course not, but I also know that the 9-11 aircraft were modified. "Those photos" weren't supposed to show up; just like "the buildings weren't supposed to fall down."

    I also know that the NYC DA has fabricated videos with splicing. It's not out of the question to believe that Cheney would task someone at Latham and Watkins to get a team together to make this airtight.

    You'll want to put the word out that you're looking for any information from actors or other people who worked on videos or other "movie related things" that were providing orange flight suits, and were constructing "movie sets" in the desert.

    Remember, they can fabricate everything. But the more they make, the harder it gets to ensure every little detail is covered. You'll want to get the people who "notice mistakes in movies" to carefully review every detail about these photos:

  • Does the sun angle make sense

  • Does the color of the cell match what the detainees remember

  • Are the actual dimensions of the cell [not what appears to be the dimension] consistent with the detainees recollection?

    They're going to make a mistake. Let's hope that one of the "dead 9-11 victims" doesn't suddenly show up. They can't make that kind of stuff disappear, even if the NYC DA's splicing department tries.

    There is no reason to trust the Americans. They have already killed. And they are now engaged in a larger scheme: To insulate their friends and avoid consequences for war crimes.

    They will kill again. They are arrogant. They are Americans.

    Key point

    The real issue isn't whether the stories match, but there's sufficient doubt about whether the American leadership follows the Constitution.

    This isn't simply a matter of locker room jokes, but is a legitimacy question.

    In turn, if they no longer enjoy blind obedience, how far will tyrants go to compel blind faith. Abroad, they have lied to justify wars of aggression.

    It is reasonable to forecast that they would lie about another "threat" to intimidate many into silence. They have already killed.

    Watch your backs! They play to make others lose. They are not constrained by the law, as they should be.

    This is a growing cancer. They have now transitioned from being simply stupid tyrants to reckless despots.

    They will create more lies and excuses to do what they have already decided: To be above accountability.

    Unless they are stopped with an impeachment, more will happen. Others will ask later, why hasn't something done to reign them in.

    There will be more excuses. This is not a novel. This actually happening. In America. Fascism. And many seem content to just let it happen.

    Very disappointing that the "lessons of history" would not be a catalyst for action.

    If the House Judiciary Committee doesn't vote for articles of impeachment, then the state legislatures need to be mobilized to change the Constitution. This despotism was to have been controlled after 1776, not given new life by calling it "Freedom."

    This isn't freedom. This is more of what created the American Revolution, Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.

    We've already had once civil war. I fully expect, on its present path, for there to be another one. It' time to start choosing: Are you for the constitution, or are you for this tyrant?

    Either way, alot of people are going to lose. This was a war of choice in Iraq. It may become a war of necessity at home.

    It is shame. To think this is the legacy of a "victorious" Cold War: A country gets ripped apart simply because it refused to hold its own accountable to the laws and standards it imposed on others.


    The only way a guard would have "confessed" to doing this was if there were a number of complaints; therefore it wasn't an isoalted event.

    However, what is more likely is, despite the recurring practice of pouring urine in the ventilation system as punishment, NCIS and the FBI have both bought the story that this was a single incident.

    DoJ-DoD's motto: Hear no evil, speak no evile, see no evil. Just be evil.