Skip to comments.A Guantanamo Policy That Is Hard to Stomach
Posted on 07/07/2013 7:12:13 AM PDT by Kaslin
The Pentagon has wonderful news for the inmates at Guantanamo who are refusing to eat: It will not infringe on their religious beliefs by force-feeding them during the daylight hours of the upcoming holy month. Their right to decline food will be scrupulously respected until nightfall.
"We understand that observing the daytime fast and taking nothing by mouth or vein is an essential component of Muslim observance of Ramadan," a prison spokesman said. "And for those detainees on hunger strike we will ensure that our preservation of life through enteral feeding does not violate the tenets of their faith."
Come sundown, though, the routine will resume. Let one of the hunger strikers tell us about it: "The process of being force-fed hurts a great deal. ... Sometimes they botch putting the tube in, and tears stream down my cheek. ... They shackle our feet with metal chains and shackle our arms and hands. ... Then they put us in a force-feeding chair and tie us with belts. ...
"I have thrown up myself sometimes because of the feeding. Especially at bedtime, I feel ill and start to throw up. I try to do it when they will not notice -- because if they see me, they will put me in the chair and feed me again."
No need for sympathy, though, because they've brought it on themselves, right? They're the ones who refuse to take the life-sustaining nourishment provided by the U.S. government in its boundless concern for their well-being. All they have to do to avoid having a tube shoved up their nose and down their throat is to eat. What could be easier?
But maybe it's not so easy. To want to eat, it helps to have a reason to go on living. Because of circumstances beyond their control, many of the Guantanamo hunger strikers have none.
The inmate quoted above, Ahmed Belbacha, has been in the prison since March 2002. In 2007, a U.S. military review board cleared him for release. In 2009, he was cleared once again. But he doesn't want to be sent back to his native country, Algeria, where he was sentenced to 20 years in prison after a trial that his lawyers say was a fraud. There, he fears, he would be tortured or killed.
The Obama administration has been unable or unwilling to find another place for him. Congress has forbidden the transfer of any inmate, no matter how harmless, to U.S. soil. So he languishes behind bars, without guilt and without hope.
One of 45 detainees now being force-fed, Belbacha told his lawyer why he has chosen this potentially fatal option: "Hunger striking is the sole peaceful means that I have to protest my indefinite detention." He is one of some 86 inmates who have not been tried or convicted by the U.S. and have been found to pose no danger but face the prospect of being locked up for additional years or decades.
It's his life, which he is willing to risk rather than continue in this limbo of despair. But the U.S. government is not willing to let him have his way with his corporeal form. In defense of the force-feeding, President Barack Obama has said, "I don't want these individuals to die."
But that should not be his choice to make. The same president who ended waterboarding because it constitutes torture persists in a practice that by international standards is also intolerably cruel. In 2006, a panel convened by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights said the force-feeding "must be assessed as amounting to torture."
Four of the prisoners have filed a lawsuit requesting an end to it. But given the reluctance of the federal courts to impede the president in doing whatever he chooses in the war on terror, their chance of success is close to zero.
It would be unpleasant for the administration to accept the possibility that these detainees will die by starvation. But it might also force the American public and its elected representatives to wake up to the needless, open-ended suffering that is being inflicted on innocent people. It might induce other nations to accept freed inmates.
It might do none of these things. Then maybe the hunger strikers will conclude they are better off dead. If that choice reflects badly on us, it should.
Um, I’m kinda thinkin’ that as long as they are offered nourishment we have done our job. If they refuse to eat, that’s their problem. Quit force feeding these clowns. Oh, and no new gym for them to work out either. Seriously. What’s up with that? They didn’t like US made equipment so we appease them buying stuff made someplace other than the US? Really? How stupid is that just so we can “look good” to the rest of the world and not have am-nasty international filing complaints. Complain away asshats. (Uh oh. World court threat!!!!)
The US Government is running a fundamentalist madrasah at Gitmo. It scrupulously observes every orthodox Muslim custom and has turned over internal leadership to the most conservative inmates
Feed them Warfarin.
For some reason reading this post has made me hungry.
I think I’ll fix myself a ham sandwich!
I thought it was a “ham samich”. LOL! Dang. Now you’ve gone and made me want one. Ham samich. It ain’t just for lunch anymore.
I guess I will have to read the Koran. I had no idea it had a passage on intravenous feeding.
“President Barack Obama has said, “I don’t want these individuals to die.” “
And just why not? The prisoners at Gitmo are the worst of the worst terrorists. Let them starve themselves to death.
Let them have their hunger strike. In about 67 days or so there will be additional beds available for more terrorists.
Bacon for breakfast, ham and cheese for lunch and roast pork for supper. Eat it now or it will there for the next meal, and the one after that, and the one after that, etc.
Offended? Good! The Mohammedans are lucky to get that. In their homeland, they’d be eating garbage and liking it.
And for the NSA trolls, FU.
Because when they capture any of ours, the first thing they ask is how not to offend us. F’em. Let them starve.
Hey, if the gubmint can withdraw a feeding tube from Terry Schiavo, who had no free will, why can’t the person who has free will compel its withdrawal?
Some hypocritical irony, huh?
Let the muzzie bast#4ds die and no one would miss them. Might make room for a group of corrupt politician from DC that should soon be arriving, IF/WHEN people get off their fat behinds a do something about the corruption we face today.
Poor Ahmed Belbacha, doesn’t want to go to his home country! If he’s been cleared for release, just take him to the gate, throw his wretched ass out, and let him go wherever he pleases. As long as it’s not the U.S.A.
I thought the libs were big on the right to die. And aren’t these prisoners just practicing their religion? They deserve the right to pass on in their own personal, chosen way. I’d give them a menu-rope, syanide, cutting instruments, so long as they can only harm themselves. Haven’t we been told that the right to die is a fundamental liberty?
Well, you could go back to Algeria but you know what awaits you there is much worse than Gitmo.
Let them die! God will sort them out.