Hunger Strike at Guantanamo Becoming More Serious

Carol Rosenberg at the Miami Herald has a graphic and disturbing update of the continuing hunger strike at Guantanamo (background here.)

By this weekend, the U.S. military had defined 26 of the 166 captives as hunger strikers. Eight were being fed nutritional shakes through a tube snaked through a shackled captive’s nose to his stomach. Two were hospitalized, getting nutrition through a tube and intravenous hydration as well. Lawyers for the captives quote their clients as counting dozens more as long-term hunger strikers, who are getting weaker by the day.

Each meal is prepared, brought to the detainee, and when refused, thrown away. [More...]

Unopened juice bottles go in the garbage first, then Styrofoam boxes of pita bread and special dietary meals. Buffet tins of stewed tomatoes, rice and sweet-and-sour stir-fried beef follow.

The detainees are no longer being cooperative. Some cover the cameras in their cells. Some are being moved from the community housing to a maximum security cellblock where force-feeding is easier. Others have stopped going to classes. The population of Camp 6 has dropped from about 130 to 80.

What do they want? A ticket home. It's only a matter of time until one or more of them die.

There's still some disagreement between guards and defense lawyers over the severity of the situation. Guards say they are finding snack wrappers from the pantries in the trash. And while the detainees have stopped reading books from the library and going to classes:

...the chief librarian, who gives his name as Milton, said four copies of the last Twilight episode are still in circulation, as well as John Madden NFL 2013 and NBA 2K13 — for the PlayStation mounted inside each Camp 6 cellblock.

Defense lawyers say their clients are fainting and coughing up blood. The Pentagon staff claims it's all fake: "They’re using ketchup or biting their tongues."

There's certainly no shortage of guards at Gitmo:

1,700 Pentagon troops and contractors are assigned to feed, watch and manage the 166 captives.

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  • Display: Sort:
    We Are So Screwed Up (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 01:43:42 PM EST
    The pictures reminds me of an electric chair and the fact that on America soil, we still execute people.  Yet, the place that houses people so bad, they can't be transferred to American soil, is forcing nutrients though their noses to keep them alive.

    Maybe just secretly try these guys here in Texas and give them all death sentences, then we won't worry about the silly moral issue of keeping people locked in prison who have been cleared to leave, or the mechanics of forcing them nutrients so they die on our watch.  That by the way is not serious.

    One has to be in a pretty damn dark place to refuse to eat to the point of endangering their life.

    GITMO guards aren't a reliable source of what is happening inside GITMO.

    Do they offer them culturally relevant materials, or is all the lowest forms of entertainment America produces, like Twilight and PlayStation, which are somehow a gauge of the detainees state of mind.  And so confident they are in that premise, that what they decide to tell the press "No worries, they are reading Twilight".

    {{Sigh}} (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Zorba on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 04:24:28 PM EST
    Yes, right, I'm sure that the detainees may (or may not) be watching "Twilight" is an indication that there are absolutely no human rights abuses going on at GITMO.
    I'm about ready to give up.  This is not the United States of America that I was taught was "the best ever!"
    USA, I hardly knew you.    :-(

    Every time I read about hunger strikes (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by Peter G on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 03:25:43 PM EST
    and forced feeding, I think of Alice Paul and the radical wing of the suffragist movement, who were subjected to this form of torture a hundred years ago.  If you haven't seen the 2004 film Iron Jawed Angels, which depicts this important slice of our civil rights history, you should.

    Yes, I watched it, (none / 0) (#3)
    by Zorba on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 04:19:02 PM EST
    Peter.  A powerful story.
    And every time I think that we may be moving forward, I am disillusioned.
    We have a friend who is always saying "Humans a near miss."  I would amend that to say that humans are, unfortunately and in so many ways, still a "far miss."
    We have come a long way, yes, I will agree.  But we still have a long, long way to go.

    I remember my brother's words (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Dadler on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 05:44:39 PM EST
    My little brother, whom I disagree with almost all the time on matters of war and politics, simply shook his head, disgusted, helpless, and said of that disgrace to humanity in as certain a tone as you will ever hear from him: "We have to close that place."

    This from the most loyal, hardworking, freedom-loving soldier the Marines will ever employ.

    Obama, close it, act like commander in chief.

    Close. It. Now.

    Phuck Congress, they phuck you all the time.

    I will give you a mulligan on this one.

    Don't you watch N.C.I.S? (none / 0) (#7)
    by NYShooter on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:31:52 PM EST
    They can't close Gitmo. Whenever they have a suspect, or prisoner, and he won't tell them who the weapons Kingpin is, they tell him, "You'll be on the next plane to Gitmo. Works every time, better than water boarding.

    Do NOT diss Leroy Jethro Gibbs! (none / 0) (#13)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 06:35:01 AM EST
    lol; We're the Weapons Kingpin... the U.S.A. (none / 0) (#18)
    by Mr Natural on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 08:46:22 PM EST
    is, heading the world with $65B/year in sales.

    lol, but, you forgot to mention (none / 0) (#19)
    by NYShooter on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 09:07:49 PM EST
    that we make the buyers promise to only use the weapons for "peaceful purposes." (and, to guarantee they keep their word we make them hold out their hands to show their fingers aren't crossed when they sign the documents.)

    For example:

    Time magazine reported in mid-March 2011 that Cobra helicopters had conducted "live ammunition air strikes" on [Pro Democracy] protesters.


    Is there as much evidence... (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by unitron on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:32:17 PM EST
    ...against each and every one of these prisoners (who as far as I know have yet to actually be convicted) as there was against McVeigh?

    I think it's kind of an apples and oranges comparison.

    The hunger strike probably shouldn't ... (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Yman on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 08:31:52 PM EST
    .... have an effect, other than to draw attention to the fact (to the extent it's publicized) that, unlike McVeigh, these people haven't been convicted of anything, yet are being held indefinitely for years.

    You speak, I jump into action (5.00 / 5) (#10)
    by NYShooter on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 09:07:49 PM EST
    However, If I should be shunned, or caned, for publishing statements very much to do with "politics," you will come to my aid, yes, Yman? As you may, or may not know, our former court jesters, having regrouped as the new TL Taliban have decreed that "politics" shall forever be banned from this site, irrespective of the fact that our founder placed that, now banned word, in her title. They pine for that long-ago era when only "very serious" talk was allowed, and the concept of politics, steeped as it is in all that icky gloom and dread wouldn't dare impose itself into the new land of "happy."

    happy, happy

    I feel better already

    Here you go:

    The underlying reason for the strike is the detainees' frustration that after 11 years, they are no closer to leaving.

    Remes said their imprisonment for 11 years without charges was an underlying cause of the hunger strikes. "It adds insult to injury that they have been approved for transfer. The reality is no one is leaving; everyone is in indefinite detention."

    There are currently 166 detainees at Guantanamo. 86 have been cleared for release. 34 are awaiting trial. Another 46 have been recommended for indefinite detention without charges by the Guantánamo Review Task Force.
    One of Obama's senior Guantanamo advisors last week, speaking at a meeting of Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said the Administration has no plans to effectuate the transfers of those cleared for release to Yemen.

    He also said the administration has no plans in the "foreseeable future" to lift a moratorium on transfers to their home country of Yemenis cleared for release.

    A law professor quoted in the article says:
    "The grim reality of Guantánamo today . . . is that death or a conviction for a supposed war crime by the military commission are surer ways out of Guantánamo than the U.S. government's own processes of clearing people for release," said Ramzi Kassem, an associate professor at City University of New York School of Law and an attorney for some detainees. He noted that 50 of the 95 Yemenis held at Guantánamo have been cleared for release but have no place to go because of the moratorium on sending Yemenis home.

    The Obama official refused to answer a question about a timeline for closing Gitmo.


    Please revise your comment (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 05:32:22 PM EST
    NY shooter, politics are discussed here. Your reference to "tl taliban" is out of line and offensive.  Please repost your comment without your inaccurate references to talkleft so I can delete the original. You may begin with:

    Here you go:

    The underlying reason for the strike is the detainees' frustration that after 11 years, they are no closer to leaving.

    Again, I'm going to delete the original comment, so either repost it or save it on your computer if you want to keep a copy.


    certainly, delete it n/t (none / 0) (#17)
    by NYShooter on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 08:35:14 PM EST
    That place is an abomination (none / 0) (#11)
    by sj on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 09:35:02 PM EST

    which place? (none / 0) (#12)
    by NYShooter on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 03:10:46 AM EST
    Gitmo, or "Happy" Land?

    Hmm, where's the check-off box for "both?"


    McVeigh is not a good example (none / 0) (#15)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 05:50:20 PM EST
    If you recall, he initially waived his appeal rights and asked to be executed sooner rather than later. Only after the FBI revealed it had failed to turn over thousands of documents to the defense was a stay ordered, and it was at the request of the Justice Department:

    Attorney General John Ashcroft decided Friday to postpone the execution of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh after the FBI revealed it had failed to turn over documents to the defense team, a government official said.

    The Justice Department handed McVeigh's lawyers 3,135 documents it said should have been provided during the discovery phase of his 1997 trial in Denver. The existence of the documents was disclosed Thursday by CBS.

    ...The Justice Department has the authority to delay the execution date without seeking permission from a court for a formal stay.

    McVeigh allowed his lawyers to move to reopen his appeal a week before his execution:

    In seeking the stay, McVeigh's attorneys argued that the federal government perpetrated a "fraud upon the court" by withholding more than 4,000 pages of documents from the defense prior to McVeigh's 1997 trial. McVeigh's lawyers also requested that Judge Matsch conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine why the documents were not turned over and to insure that other evidence is not still being withheld.

    It was denied, and he went, uncomplainingly, to his death on June 11, 2001 six years after the bombing.

    The hunger-striking Guantanamo inmates have been held 11 years without charges or convictions.

    I think cassandra1313 does not know (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 05:53:29 PM EST
    who you are.