Communicating a threat in Supermax; al Qaeda and their lawyers wage jailhouse jihad

President Barack Obama said, “Nobody has ever escaped from one of our federal, supermax prisons, which hold hundreds of convicted terrorists,” during his May 21, 2009 speech at the National Archives.

In this morning’s Washington Post, they report a 2006 Department of Justice memo states that convicted al Qaeda prisoners in Supermax at Florence, Colorado “coordinated the beginning of a hunger strike” and developed “a sophisticated method to resist compulsory feeding” by communicated via “tapping on the pipes.” (Has no one at the Bureau of Prisons ever heard of the Hanoi Hilton and how John McCain et al communicated by tapping on the walls?)

The WaPo stopped short of quoting from footnote 11 on page 13 that, “Ultimately, due to this coordination, the al Qaeda terrorists succeeded in gaining transfer from high security detention.” The DOJ’s memo does not go on to explain if the transfer was temporary or permanent yet there are no reports that al Qaeda detainees were transferred away from Florence. It sounds to me like the BOP, at least temporarily, had to shuffle prisoners around so that the plumbing was not common.

There has always been a waiting list to move dangerous prisoners into Florenceā€™s Supermax yet the number of open beds there has hovered between 26 and 28 (currently 28) the last 3 weeks. Perhaps they are doing some remodeling to both house detainees in a distinct wing and prevent such communications between them once they are there. While that may silence pipeline communications, that will not break the Ratt [sic] line.