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July 8, 2013 6:37 AM   Subscribe

As Ramadan begins, more than 100 hunger-strikers in Guantánamo Bay continue their protest. More than 40 of them are being force-fed. A leaked document sets out the military instructions, or standard operating procedure, for force-feeding detainees. In this four-minute film made by Human Rights organisation Reprieve and Bafta award-winning director Asif Kapadia, US actor and rapper Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), experiences the procedure.
posted by jbickers (111 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, that was powerful. The particularly striking thing was that Bey had to tap out on the first occasion. He had both the knowledge that he could tap out and that this was a one off thing, and still looked traumatised.

I'm actually very surprised that there aren't more reports of complete psychological breakdowns coming out from the lawyers.
posted by jaduncan at 6:48 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Complete insanity.
posted by odinsdream at 6:49 AM on July 8, 2013


I have a pretty strong stomach and I couldn't get through it.

I just... I can't even come up with anything to say anymore when I think about what's going on down there. There are a lot of things Obama has done that are disappointing, but failing to make any serious attempt to close Guantanamo is #1 on my list. I really believed he was going to do it.
posted by something something at 6:52 AM on July 8, 2013 [19 favorites]


Striking video, and quite powerful that he couldn't even fully go through with it. Nasogastric tubes are not always so traumatic and difficult to insert, but the main aspect of an easy vs. difficult insertion IMO is the willingness of the participant. Also key to making NG tubes less painful is trying not to move them once they're inserted. The fact that these prisoners are having them inserted by force and that they are inserted and removed repeatedly over and over again is absolutely horrific. Mos Def describes the burning sensation at the back of his throat - can you imagine the feeling if your throat were already traumatized by repeatedly insertions and removals of these tubes? A fucking nightmare.
posted by thelaze at 6:52 AM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I heard a radio show about this when this all first began, and it was like two or three. Just the description of this was hard to listen to, I don't think I could handle the video.

Amidst many war crimes, I think this is the worst. I personally think I'd rather be waterboarded over and over. We really have truly lost our way.

Thank gob, at least, this leaked out and a group of people had the balls and the access to make this video.
posted by nevercalm at 6:58 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm going to have this clip cued up on my smart phone the next time someone tries to gives me shit for not standing during the national anthem.
posted by any major dude at 7:00 AM on July 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


Force-feeding Guantánamo detainees is unethical and inhumane
Past experiences also help us to interpret prisoner accounts. When the Algerian detainee Ahmed Belbacha's gave his testimony to the BBC recently, he recalled that force-feeding "hurts a great deal" and produces intense vomiting. Prisoners' accounts are far from unbiased. Nonetheless, suffragettes' accounts also talk about the relentless vomiting and discomfort of their feeding experiences; the psychological fear of the stomach tube expressed by the Irish republican Austin Stack – scrawled in pencil on a piece of toilet paper and smuggled out of Mountjoy Prison, Dublin, in 1917 – also reinforces the Guantánamo accounts, as does the very real incident of Gaughan's death as the food which he was fed accidentally clogged up his lungs.
posted by jaduncan at 7:00 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Related
The hunger strikers are also being force fed a mixture of drug to help complete the digestion process. These drugs can have bad secundary effects including irreversible neurological disorders.
None of these prisoners has had a trial.
Obama being at the top of the pyramid has to take the blame for this torture on his watch. There are many things he could be remembered for. I will remember him for this.
''Hope and Change'' what a joke.
I would like it to be highlighted who are the slimy psycopaths who are pushing this agenda seriously believing they are doing the ''right thing''.
Colonel Bogdan should be relieved of his command at Guantánamo
Are there any decent people in the administration?
posted by adamvasco at 7:09 AM on July 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


And that brings up another point....you're force feeding someone on a hunger strike who then vomits, causing them to lose whatever you just pumped in there plus more of all the added harm that that sort of vomiting brings with it, including further fluid loss.

It's really a mindfuck. Some comedian said about it "wow, you've gotta love the US. They want to lock you up for life, and now that won't even let you die! We've got you here and the hereafter." (serious paraphrase...)
posted by nevercalm at 7:10 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Amidst many war crimes, I think this is the worst.

Got curious about this statement, so did a google. From Joe Nocera at the New York Times: Is Force-Feeding Torture?
posted by Going To Maine at 7:14 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Guantánamo has already been declared a medical ethics free zone.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:15 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


something something: "I have a pretty strong stomach and I couldn't get through it.

I just... I can't even come up with anything to say anymore when I think about what's going on down there. There are a lot of things Obama has done that are disappointing, but failing to make any serious attempt to close Guantanamo is #1 on my list. I really believed he was going to do it.
"

You don't understand though it's all Congress's fault. And states and shit. And plus, I mean can you blame them. We've already got the ADX Florence, but those guys in there are peanuts compared to the random people we've picked up on the battlefield when we invaded their country. I mean, these people are ...

Look, WE NEED AN ARKHAM ASYLUM TO HOUSE THESE PEOPLE! There's not telling *what* they could end up doing, and if they escape on the Motherland, the damage they could inflict, dear god... the damage.

Also - I mean, they're totally being cool and shit with the force-feeding by waiting til Sundown, totes respecting Islam, yo!
posted by symbioid at 7:17 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


So - why are only 44 out of the 120 being forcefed, anyways? Why not all of them? (I bet it's because it's torture, so they're fucking with the ones who weren't particularly compliant in the past, but that's just a guess).
posted by symbioid at 7:20 AM on July 8, 2013


Just another indication of what we have devolved to as a country.
posted by prepmonkey at 7:21 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


From the administrations point of view, why is force-feeding better than letting the prisoners starve to death? Is it because they don't want the prisoners to be seen as martyrs?
posted by mullacc at 7:25 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


My respect for Yasiin Bey has gone through the roof.

Has anyone done a video like this for water boarding?

My mother had to be fed like this for the last year of her life. That tube starts tearing the shit out of your nasal passages. Eventually they sort of callus, but still. They also probably hit the person his an nasal spray local to deaden the nerves in there.

Disgusting.

The Nobel Peace Prize has no credibility any more. Obama's needs revoked (and I say this as a supporter of Obama).

Is it because they don't want the prisoners to be seen as martyrs?

People dying in custody has a way of focussing the world's attention.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:26 AM on July 8, 2013


cjorgensen: "Has anyone done a video like this for water boarding?"

Christopher Hitchens.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:28 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Guantánamo Bay is bizarre and mind-bending for me. There are 166 people still being held, and 46 are being held in “continued detention”, while others have been cleared for release, but sit "in limbo." Some people have been held for over a decade, and those who have been deemed "too dangerous" to release but the US lacks grounds to put them on trial will be held until something major changes. But we have to keep them alive, with some detainees continuing their hunger strike for 6 years, kept alive by being strapped in a chair and having a tube shoved down their throat. "... you're trying to resist that with the only muscles that are free — in your throat."

Death can be postponed, but not forever.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:31 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another indication of how things that used to be held up as torture and evidence of totalitarianism by US politicians have become accepted in the US itself:
"Artificial feeding has much in common with rape. And that’s what it really is: four big men hurl themselves on one weak being and deprive it of its one interdiction – they only need to do it once and what happens to it next is not important. The element of rape inheres in the violation of the victim’s will: ‘It’s not going to be the way you want it, but the way I want it; lie down and submit.’ They pry open the mouth with a flat disc, then broaden the crack between the jaws and insert a tube: ‘Swallow it.’ And if you don’t swallow it, they shove it farther down anyway and then pour liquefied food right down the esophagus. And then they massage the stomach to prevent the prisoner from resorting to vomiting. The sensation is one of being morally defiled, of sweetness in the mouth, and a jubilant stomach gratified to the point of delight."

-- Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago.
posted by jaduncan at 7:39 AM on July 8, 2013 [25 favorites]


Oh, and what was done in this video wasn't actually the procedure as done in Gitmo, as it missed the new metal-tipped feeding tubes that are apparently replacing the softer plastic as used in the video:
Shaker Aamer claims that the US authorities are systematically making the regime more hardline to try to defuse the strike, which now involves almost two-thirds of the detainees. Techniques include making cells "freezing cold" to accentuate the discomfort of those on hunger strike and the introduction of "metal-tipped" feeding tubes, which Aamer said were forced into inmates' stomachs twice a day and caused detainees to vomit over themselves.
posted by jaduncan at 7:43 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Who is the highest ranking U.S. government official who has been asked about this and defended it? Did somebody follow up and ask him if he has any sense of decency?
posted by bukvich at 7:45 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Warning: some viewers may find these images distressing". OTOH this is something my government is doing on my behalf, so I feel some obligation to watch it.

I don't think there's anything else the Americans operating Guantanamo can do. You can't let these folks starve to death, both on humanitarian grounds and on practical grounds. And short of sedation, forcing a tube into someone's nose and down their esophagus is just going to suck. The real solution is of course to end their unlawful detention, but Obama's been unable to resolve the terrible situation Bush created. It's a total clusterfuck. It's insane that it takes months of hunger strike to call attention to what an awful situation the US has created.

Mad respect for Yasiin Bey, not just for this video but for most of his career. Sean Hannity's waterboard video is still under production.
posted by Nelson at 7:46 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


cjorgensen: "Has anyone done a video like this for water boarding?"

Christopher Hitchens


Among others. Sean Hannity, despite promising to do so because Torture Is Totes Awesome When Done To Brown People, has not proven he has the testicular fortitude yet.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:48 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can't let these folks starve to death, both on humanitarian grounds and on practical grounds.

Medical ethics says that's exactly what you do.
posted by jaduncan at 7:49 AM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Who is the highest ranking U.S. government official who has been asked about this and defended it? Did somebody follow up and ask him if he has any sense of decency

El Presidente
mentioned the practice at the end of May, but didn't defend it:
I know the politics are hard. But history will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism and those of us who fail to end it. Imagine a future -- 10 years from now or 20 years from now -- when the United States of America is still holding people who have been charged with no crime on a piece of land that is not part of our country. Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike. I'm willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack because it's worth being passionate about. Is this who we are? Is that something our Founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave our children? Our sense of justice is stronger than that.
posted by banal evil at 7:50 AM on July 8, 2013


You can't let these folks starve to death, both on humanitarian grounds and on practical grounds.

Medical ethics says that's exactly what you do.


For an example of this in the real world, we don't treat Do-Not-Resuscitate instructions as suicide even though they will often predictably result in death. We also don't just ignore it when people decide that they do not wish to use intense cancer treatments. In the same way, if a competent patient is refusing food, they have the right to do so. The requirement for medical consent isn't just something that one can turn on and off because it's politically/personally convenient.
posted by jaduncan at 7:56 AM on July 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


Sean Hannity, despite promising to do so because Torture Is Totes Awesome When Done To Brown People, has not proven he has the testicular fortitude yet.

Newshounds sort of keeps track of this.
posted by tetsuo at 7:59 AM on July 8, 2013


People dying in custody has a way of focussing the world's attention.

But so does force-feeding. Maybe the coverage of this actually gives the administration cover to end force-feeding.
posted by mullacc at 8:01 AM on July 8, 2013


That was awful, jbickers.
I'm glad you posted it.
posted by doctornemo at 8:08 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can't let these folks starve to death, both on humanitarian grounds and on practical grounds.

Medical ethics says that's exactly what you do.


This, exactly.
posted by odinsdream at 8:14 AM on July 8, 2013


So apparently I'm wrong about medical ethics and force feeding, as Joe Nocera's NYT op/ed asserts with some references. I'm not sure which ethical lapse is worse; force feeding or unlawful imprisonment.

The Obama Administration's policy on the Bush Administration war crimes was to sweep them under the rug, to refuse to investigate any of them. Here's one human rights abuse that didn't conveniently stay hidden.
posted by Nelson at 8:21 AM on July 8, 2013


In the U.S., prisoners and patients at Catholic hospitals can legally be force-fed. This does not just happen at Guantanamo.
posted by liketitanic at 8:24 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had a sinus operation once that involved forcing packing into my nose (to stop copious bleeding) and later pulling it out again. years later I had kidney stones and I suppose they were worse, but not by much.

It's the horrible feeling that somebody can stick something right in the middle of your head that is so distressing. you see them coming toward you and when they reach your face they didn't stop, but the pain starts. It's hard to describe. Being inside you with their scraping and pushing. My nurses did their best and were wonderful, but it is a revolting, a feeling that they stick something hard deep inside your face, behind you nose, almost behind the eyes... I can only imagine what it would be like against my will.

It's an expression of power, of violence over your self, that is like rape: it's all about power without limits.

We complain about Chinese prisoners having organs removed (allegedly) but it's the same principle: the state has no boundaries. But what happens in Guantanemo is worse: Guantanamo is so bad that people want to die just to end the misery, and their torturers will not allow that. It is literally a fate worse than death.

The fact that the victims have never been convicted in any court of law is just icing on the cake.
posted by EnterTheStory at 8:31 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


There are so many rotten, awful things happening in this administration that it's difficult to know what to be most outraged about.
posted by desjardins at 8:33 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I couldn't watch that. I am angry, sickened, and revolted. It's just too much.

Surely this...

I feel incredibly betrayed by my country. There's nothing about Guantanamo that reflects the US government as I was taught it should behave. Certainly the US has misbehaved terribly in the past, a recently as the Japanese American Internment, the shadows of which are impossible to ignore when I visit San Francisco. These atrocities always seems to be in the name of war. In the name of surviving, the country betrays its itself, betrays its ideals, and ignores "self-evident" truths.

The war on terrorism has gone on for 10 years too long. It justifies too many atrocities. The US is losing its identity, if it's not already lost. The problems are endemic in all branches of the government. All branches are complicit in this torture, all branches have checked off the "OK" box on Guantanamo. All branches have balanced the costs of releasing torture victims, many known to be completely innocent, from their hellish imprisonment, with the costs of continuing to imprison and torture them, and even with the costs of letting them starve themselves to death. In their wisdom all branches have decided to march on as-is. The whole system has failed, and presumably in the name of protecting the nation against terrorism, the government has made a complete farce of itself.

I love where I live. I love the culture that I can enjoy, the opportunities that I have. There's so much here that is completely unique and special and I could never find it elsewhere in the world. I owe a lot to the system that has educated me, has given me more opportunities than I would see elsewhere in the world. And all that seems to be collapsing in on itself. I'm going on a long trip this summer out of the country, and I fear that I'll spend most of it trying to see if this country or that country could possibly be a new home for me and my family. Or perhaps if I ignore these perversions of our nation's ideals, stuff it down, perhaps I can live my life without the perversions affecting me or anyone I know personally. And certainly there's a part of me that wishes I never knew about it and would like to forget, but it's impossible. I would like to change our country, but I don't know how.

It's not as simple as voting in the right administration. I wish it were, but it's not, the whole government is determined to continue the status quo, and there's too many people who want it to continue for a single administration to change it. There's just too much of an wartime, under-fire attitude that envelops too many people everywhere. I think that most of the people who are still afraid of terrorism are afraid because of the mob-driven fear. They just need to see that the mob is no longer afraid of terrorism, the mob is now afraid of what our government has become. And all these articles saying that bathtubs are more dangerous than terrorists perhaps help, but they also seem so ineffectual. But surely this is also too simplistic a view of humanity, something else that must be done to change us.

I can't believe I just spewed this out here, but I have no idea how to cope with this. This post really broke something in me.
posted by Llama-Lime at 8:43 AM on July 8, 2013 [27 favorites]


The last few weeks -- months? years? -- have just been an avalanche of terrible news. Spying on reporters, spying on everyone, charging people with espionage willy nilly, waging cyber warfare against other nations in secret, secret laws, secret courts, voter ID laws, abortion laws passed in the middle of the night, widespread police brutality, bank fraud and mortgage fraud, humans rights abuses ... I can't keep counting. It's too much.

The Guantanamo prisoners, by this point, are almost a symbol of whatever rotten thing has grown up within our government. They're who we can point to and say, "Your government is doing this, which is visibly repulsive."

Most of the other abuses aren't visible, but it's just not tolerable any more. If the Democrats won't fight for civil liberties and a humane government, who will?

I want to clean house. Everyone out. Anyone who has ever been involved in politics, at all, out of the government. No more politicians, only representatives. Clean out the military, and maybe shut down all our spying apparatuses altogether until we can figure out how to be not evil. Call a constitutional convention, or a series of conventions all around America. Take proposed amendments from the public, with online voting that narrows the new amendments down to a slate of ten. Get them passed, and ensure some of our more critical civil liberties for once and for all.

Basically, American government needs to go into therapy, stat. That's the only solution I can think up.

But since this isn't going to happen, what can we do? As citizens, how can we really effect change? I'm really serious. The last few weeks since the AP scandal and all the scandals that followed, I've been complete done. Fed up. What do we do? Is there any solution other than leaving the country?
posted by brina at 8:48 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Medical ethics says that's exactly what you do.

False. The Declaration of Malta states that “Forcible feeding [of mentally competent hunger strikers] is never ethically acceptable. Even if intended to benefit, feeding accompanied by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment.”
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:48 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can we call this what it is yet, a concentration camp? Because that is what it is.

Are there any decent people in the administration?

Ask that about the military, that's who really runs everything. I was in an random game forum, and some guy felt the need to pipe up that he was a recent veteran and supports martial law, and the majority of people responding piped up with the usual "Thank you for your service" response that people seem to say no matter what the person actually did. I have a friend who works for the government and when i brought up the torture (let's not beat around the bush, it's what we'd call it if it happened to us), and she said they weren't doing anything wrong and were "good people". No, you are not a good person if you torture anyone else. Anyone who tries to get out the wrong that is being done (Manning, Snowden) is considered a traitor, not the torture crowd, and that's a bad sign.

I'm not naive enough to think anything will change though, or that any punishments will really happen. I'm also going to give a shout out to the NSA who is probably reading this.
posted by usagizero at 8:57 AM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


From the administrations point of view, why is force-feeding better than letting the prisoners starve to death? Is it because they don't want the prisoners to be seen as martyrs?

In general, there is a strong current against allowing a prisoner to self-harm. In the U.S. Justice system, (not sure about UCMJ) it is illegal for the government to allow a prisoner to starve themselves to death.

Personally, I agree with that position. Put another way, Hermann Goring is the biggest example of why we don't allow this.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:02 AM on July 8, 2013


Personally, I agree with that position. Put another way, Hermann Goring is the biggest example of why we don't allow this.

Yes, how dared he kill himself the night before he was supposed to be killed!
posted by ymgve at 9:11 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The International Humanitarian Law Dissemination unit at the American Red Cross, National Headquarters, runs a weblog on the rules of war, per the Geneva Conventions. Here is their take on the hunger strike, force-feeding and Common Article 3.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:13 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Put another way, Hermann Goring is the biggest example of why we don't allow this.

What? Göring killed himself with a cyanide capsule the night before he was to be executed by hanging. He didn't go on a hunger strike. It's completely inapposite.

No, the reason we don't allow prisoners to voluntarily choose to starve themselves in an exercise of fully competent free speech is because we have sentenced them to a certain amount of time in prison and by god they will serve that sentence even if we have to force feed them. It's all part and parcel of our almost entirely retributive system of justice.
posted by jedicus at 9:13 AM on July 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I want to clean house. Everyone out. Anyone who has ever been involved in politics, at all, out of the government. No more politicians, only representatives. Clean out the military, and maybe shut down all our spying apparatuses altogether until we can figure out how to be not evil. Call a constitutional convention, or a series of conventions all around America. Take proposed amendments from the public, with online voting that narrows the new amendments down to a slate of ten. Get them passed, and ensure some of our more critical civil liberties for once and for all.

Basically, American government needs to go into therapy, stat. That's the only solution I can think up.


Given the institutional power in the country even outside the government--a lot, probably even a vast majority, of what is here being referred to as "the government" or "the military" is actually the private sector filling the role--this is a solution that has as near a 100% chance of making this country exponentially worse as to be indistinguishable.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:14 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Put another way, Hermann Goring is the biggest example of why we don't allow this.

What does self-starvation have to do with suicide a few hours before an execution?
posted by banal evil at 9:14 AM on July 8, 2013


Certainly the US has misbehaved terribly in the past, a recently as the Japanese American Internment

You forgot the support for Batista in Cuba. And overthrowing Mossadegh, and supporting the Shah and his terror regime. And bombing the shit out of Laos and Cambodia. And then supporting Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge *after* their crimes against humanity were well known. And overthrowing Allenda and supporting Pinochet's terror regime. And supporting the terror regime in El Salvador. And funding Contra terrorists in Nicaragua. And supporting dictatorships or other oppressive governments in Guatemala. And Honduras. And Panama. And Argentina. And Paraguay. And Haiti. And the Dominican Republic. And Bolivia. And Peru. And Spain. And Portugal. And Greece. And Zaire. And Nigeria. And Malawi. And Togo. And the Ivory Coast. And Egypt. And Rhodesia. And South Africa. And Indonesia. And South Vietnam. And the Philippines. And South Korea. And Kenya.

Did I mention the involuntary medical experiments on black people until 1972? Because that too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:18 AM on July 8, 2013 [27 favorites]


We have "prisoners" who are "detained" primarily because they "hate" us. So they take a principled stand (and what's more "American" than that, really?) and we do this to them. That is FUCKED-UP and WRONG. And wrong is not nearly a strong enough word.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:19 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think there are a couple things worth clarifying with this.

NG-tube (nasogatric tube) feeding is an exceedingly common medical procedure. Undergo almost any abdominal surgery and you will likely get an NG tube inserted. Refractory vomitting? NGT. Had a stroke and can't swallow? NGT. GI bleed? NGT.

The insertion of NG tubes is unpleasant, but shouldn't be painful (this is, of course, when the patient is co-operative or unconscious). The usual technique is have the person sitting up, lubricate the tube, insert it gently, and have someone swallow a glass of water to help it down.

Once its in, though, it's not uncomfortable and more inconvenient than anything, and can stay in for weeks at a time. I don't think they're actually physically inserting it twice a day, as opposed to just using it twice a day.

Here is a previous FPP on women using it to lose weight.

Basically, discuss it as a failure of medical ethics, but I think comparing it to waterboarding is a disservice.
posted by cacofonie at 9:25 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


jaduncan hit the nail on the head earlier. This is about showing the detainees how powerless they are, which is probably why only a percentage of the strikers are undergoing this "treatment." The religious intolerance is just icing on the cake.

I'm starting to think the peace prize was given away as some kind of bizarre indication that this is "the new peace." Torture that masquerades as force-feeding prisoners to keep them alive, but not necessarily healthy. Being gracious enough to indiscriminately bomb people by remote control. Acting as if we're constantly, indefinitely in officially declared wartime. You know... peace.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 9:29 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to the Joe Nocera article, force-fed detainees are being given a drug called Reglan (generic name metoclopramide), which can cause tardive dyskinesia. The FDA has warned against chronic use of this drug:
The chronic use of metoclopramide therapy should be avoided in all but rare cases where the benefit is believed to outweigh the risk. Current product labeling warns of the risk of tardive dyskinesia with chronic metoclopramide treatment .... Tardive dyskinesia is characterized by involuntary, repetitive movements of the extremities, or lip smacking, grimacing, tongue protrusion, rapid eye movements or blinking, puckering and pursing of the lips, or impaired movement of the fingers. These symptoms are rarely reversible and there is no known treatment.
The documents that describe the force feeding procedure says that doctors should "offer" viscous lidocaine (a local anesthetic) on the feeding tube, but says nothing about any kind of consent for Reglan. The same documents also suggest using Phenergan on prisoners. Taking Reglan and Phenergan at the same time heightens the risk of these side effects; the guidelines say nothing about this risk.

The procedure makes a big show of demonstrating that the prisoner undertands the health risks or his hunger strike, but the prisoner is never made aware of the actual risks of his "treatment".

Guantanamo Bay prisoners will never be force fed with informed consent. They aren't even force fed with informed non-consent.
posted by compartment at 9:30 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


this is a solution that has as near a 100% chance of making this country exponentially worse as to be indistinguishable

Probably. I kind of lost it for a minute there. Got any other ideas?
posted by brina at 9:31 AM on July 8, 2013


The insertion of NG tubes is unpleasant, but shouldn't be painful (this is, of course, when the patient is co-operative or unconscious). The usual technique is have the person sitting up, lubricate the tube, insert it gently, and have someone swallow a glass of water to help it down.

Once its in, though, it's not uncomfortable and more inconvenient than anything, and can stay in for weeks at a time. I don't think they're actually physically inserting it twice a day, as opposed to just using it twice a day.


"the introduction of "metal-tipped" feeding tubes, which Aamer said were forced into inmates' stomachs twice a day and caused detainees to vomit over themselves."

Unless the guy who was declared innocent in 2006 is lying, they are indeed inserting twice a day.
posted by jaduncan at 9:39 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


YAY for being the Good Guys.
posted by DigDoug at 9:49 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Personally, I agree with that position. Put another way, Hermann Goring is the biggest example of why we don't allow this."

It seems to me a distinction between Goring and these prisoners is that most of these prisoners are acknowledged to be innocent of any crime (not all, but most). So this torture (or involuntary medical procedure) is done to people we acknowledge are innocent of any crime.

While it may be impossible for Obama to shut down Guantanamo (due to congress), is there anything actually legally prohibiting him from releasing those that we determine haven't committed any crimes?

And since Ironmouth already Godwinned the thread, I might as well bring up another comparison. When I was in school we were shown Nazi atrocities (in film, in history books). They were difficult to look at, they were disturbing and images that could not be erased from our young minds. But they were shown to us for a reason - so we would know the horrors that were committed, the atrocities that mankind was capable of. Presumably they were partly shown to us to help instill in us that such things must never be tolerated again. I realize and agree with the decision to show such disturbing imagery to young(ish) children.

And I am ashamed that I cannot watch this video, that I cannot even watch a simulation of what is done in my name. America has no moral compass anymore. And we are all to blame.
posted by el io at 9:50 AM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


jaduncan hit the nail on the head earlier. This is about showing the detainees how powerless they are, which is probably why only a percentage of the strikers are undergoing this "treatment."

Mu understanding is that they only do the force feeding once an inmate has been on hunger strike long enough that their health is in danger. The paper to follow on this is the Miami Herald. Carol Rosenberg is the reporter, I think. She's the best out there.

Salon is terrible link-bait these days. A dying site.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:52 AM on July 8, 2013


From the Red Cross Laws of Armed Conflict blog, linked to earlier:
Force-feeding involves strapping down the detainees to a specially designed chair and left tied down so that a liquid nutrient drink can be digested.[16] A feeding tube is then run through the nasal cavity and down the throat to the stomach, a painful procedure.[17] The feeding tube makes breathing difficult, and the sensation has been compared to drowning.[18] Risks of prolonged tube feeding include getting liquid in the lungs and damaging nasal passages.[19] There is also a risk of neurological disorder associated with long-term use of the anti-nausea drugs administered to prevent vomiting.[20] The procedure takes from 30 minutes up to two hours and can cause bleeding and uncomfortable side effects. [21]
Of course a feeding tube itself is not "torture." That doesn't mean that the way feeding tubes are being used in Guantanamo isn't torture. That's akin to saying that, since surgeons amputate patients as part of medical practice, then no amputation is torture.

is there anything actually legally prohibiting him from releasing those that we determine haven't committed any crimes?

As I've seen it, the problem is that there's no where for them to GO. The president can release them, but Congress won't authorize allowing them into the US. Their home countries also won't take them.
posted by muddgirl at 9:53 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


cacofonie: "The insertion of NG tubes is unpleasant, but shouldn't be painful"

Suppose you're inserting these tubes into somebody who doesn't want them inserted. That would seem to change the scenario (as others have mentioned).
posted by boo_radley at 9:54 AM on July 8, 2013


And since Ironmouth already Godwinned the thread, I might as well bring up another comparison.

Godwinning is when you compare something to the Nazis. I mentioned the most famous person to commit suicide in US custody and mentioned neither his status as a Nazi or as a German. Nor did I compare anyone to the Nazis in order to win any argument, merely to point out that there are reasons for jailers to prevent suicides amogst the prisoners.

Instead, you just godwinned the thread.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:55 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think they're actually physically inserting it twice a day, as opposed to just using it twice a day.
[...]
Basically, discuss it as a failure of medical ethics, but I think comparing it to waterboarding is a disservice.

And, indeed, the leaked document at page 18:
5. Guard force shackle detainee and a mask is placed over the detainee's mouth to prevent spitting and biting.
[...]
7. Detainee is escorted to the chair restraint system and is appropriately restrained by the guard force.
[...]
9. A feeding tube is placed in the stomach as follows:
a. Topical anesthesia (e.g. viscus lidocaine) will be applied to the relevant nostril (unless detainee refuses) and the feeding tube OR
b. Sterile Surgical lubricant (may be substituted with viscous lidocaine or olive oil, if desired by the detainee) is applied to the feeding tube.
c. The feeding tube is passed via the nasal passage into the stomach. Placement of the feeding tube in the stomach is confirmed using air insufflation and a 10mL test dose of water.
d. The tube is secured to the nose with tape. The entral neutiriton and water that has been ordered is started and flow rate is adjusted according to detainee's condition and tolerance.
e. Typically, the feeding can be accomplished comfortably over 20 to 30 minutes.
f. After the feeding is completed, the staff removes the feeding tube.

Mmm. I certainly don't think that this has been designed to avoid physically and mentally coercive effects, put it that way.
posted by jaduncan at 9:55 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mu understanding is that they only do the force feeding once an inmate has been on hunger strike long enough that their health is in danger. The paper to follow on this is the Miami Herald. Carol Rosenberg is the reporter, I think. She's the best out there.

You can read the linked document, Ironmouth. Page 5 details the criteria.
posted by jaduncan at 9:58 AM on July 8, 2013


"Hans, are we the baddies?"
posted by humboldt32 at 9:58 AM on July 8, 2013 [19 favorites]


Eh, I'll do it for you:

STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE: SOP: JTF-JMG 001
MEDICAL MANAGEMENT OF DETAINEES ON 65 MAR 2013
HUNGER STRIKE Page 5 of 30

Once completed, Enclosure (3) will be signed by the medical provider and placed in the
detainee's outpatient medical record.

2. Behavioral Healthcare Service (BHS) will perform an assessment of the mental and
status of the detainee, which will be documented in the outpatient medical record
on a Standard Form 600. BHS will continue to regularly evaluate detainees who continue on a
hunger strike.

3. After the initial evaluation, the detainee will be evaluated on a daily basis using
Enclosure (4), Hunger Striker Medical Fiow Sheer. This form is maintained electronically on the
network share drive. When the detainee is removed from the hunger strike list, a copy of the flow
sheet will be filed in the detainee's outpatient medical record.

B. When a JMG Medical Officer determines that the detainee's life or health might be
threatened if treatment is not initiated, the Senior Medical Officer will give consideration to
involuntary medical treatment of the detainee. Involuntary medical treatment should be
considered if any of the following clinical criteria are met:

1. There is evidence of deleterious health effects reflective of end organ involvement or
damage to include, but not limited to, seizures, syncope or pre-syncope, significant metabolic
derangements, muscle wasting, or weakness such that activities of daily living are
significantly hampered.

2. There is a pre-existing co--morbidity that might readily predispose to end organ
damage hypertension, coronary artery disease or any significant heart condition, renal
insufficiency or failure, or endocrinopathy).

3. There is a prolonged period of hunger strike (more than 21 days).

4. The detainee is at a weightless than 85% of the calculated Ideal Body Weight (IBW).

5. The detainee has experienced significant weight loss (greater than 15%) from

previously recorded or in-processing Weight. These criteria are suggested guidelines, and

are not intended to replace the clinical judgment of the SMO and medical staff

C. Prior to medical treatment being administered, medical staff will make reasonable efforts
to convince the detainee to voluntarily resume eating or accept treatment. The MG staff will
explain medical risks the detainee faces if he does not accept treatment.

1. Involuntary medical treatment may include, but is not limited to, intravenous fluids,
blood draws, weights, and/or administration of nutritional formulas or electrolyte solutions via an
enteral feeding tube. When, after reasonable efforts, or in an emergency preventing such efforts,
a medical necessity for treatment of a life or serious health--threatening situation exists, the
Senior Medical Officer may recommend that treatment be administered without the consent of
the detainee.

2. No direct action will be taken to involuntarily feed a detainee without the written
approval of the TF-GTMO Commander as set out above, unless a medical emergency exists.
Medical staff shall document all of their counseling efforts and treatments in the detainee's
medical record.
posted by jaduncan at 9:59 AM on July 8, 2013


I couldn't even make it past watching them strap him in on my first attempt at viewing this. Had to stop it, go do something else and come back to it.

Still couldn't make it to the end.

Sometimes I really envy 10 year old me. He was absolutely sure that we were the good guys and that we always fought the good fight with good actions.

And I get that history is written by the victors and the side we think of as the "good guys" has always been closer to post-Dark Knight Returns grimdark than Golden Age nobility, etc etc.

But at least your typical grimdark comic book hero doesn't go around loudly and frequently proclaiming that he is still the pure and always-above-board Golden Age type while secretly being not that different from the bad guys the way we do (aside from the occasional Ennis/Morrison/Millar/Moore/et al deconstruction where that in fact is the premise of the story).

I don't even know where I'm going with this. I just feel so sad and helpless about everything now.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:06 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


what were steps 6 and 8 that they were blacked out (nb, I can't see the leaked document from where I am right now)?
posted by boo_radley at 10:06 AM on July 8, 2013


boo_radley: that was me shortening it.

I apologise for the c+p in the thread, but since people can't see it, this is the (allegedly/leaked) full procedure:
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE: 1 SOP: JTF-JMG 001
MEDICAL MANAGEMENT OF DETAINEES ON 05 MAR 2013
HUNGER STRIKE Page 18 of 30

Chair Restraint System Clinical Protocol for the Intermittent Enteral Feeding of Detainees on Hunger Strike

At the discretion of the attending Medical Officer, intermittent enteral feedings may be initiated in the DH or designated feeding blocks. Detainees are evaluated daily by medical staff. Intermittent enteral feedings are usually done two times a day. Medical restraints chair restraint system) should be used for the safety of the detainee, medical staff, and guard force. The following describes the chair restraint system and feeding procedures used for intermittent enteral feeding on the feeding blocks.

1. Medical provider reviews missed meals logged from guards and medical staff to verify the
detainee is still refusing regularly offered (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) meals.

2. Medical staff advises the detainee that hunger striking is detrimental to his health. He is offered a meal and given the chance to eat. If the detainee refuses to voluntarily eat a meal, the enteral
feeds are initiated.

3. Medical provider signs medical restraint order to enterally feed the detainee the prescribed diet.

4. Guard force offers detainee restroom privileges (and encourages use of the restroom) before
shackles are placed on detainee.

5. Guard force shackles detainee and a mask is placed over the detainee's mouth to prevent spitting and biting.

6. Detainee is escorted to the scale for daily weight. Verify whether detainee has attained 100% of calculated IBW for 14 days or more.

7. Detainee is escorted to the chair restraint system and is appropriately restrained by the guard force.

8. When the guard force advises it is safe, medical personnel initiate the medical restraint monitoring procedures as per SOP 081, obtain vital signs, and document pulses and restraint placement. Using the restraint observation sheet, medical personnel will document circulation checks and detainee condition every 15 minutes.

9. A feeding tube is placed in the stomach as follows:

a. Topical anesthesia viscous lidocaine) will be applied to the appropriate nostril (unless detainee refuses) and the feeding tube OR

b. Sterile Surgical lubricant (may be substituted with viscous lidocaine or olive oil, if desired by the detainee) is applied to the feeding tube.

c. The feeding tube is passed via the nasal passage into the stomach. Placement of the feeding tube in the stomach is confirmed using air insufflation with auscultation and a 10 mL test
dose. of water.

d. The tube is secured to the nose with tape. The enteral nutrition and water that has been ordered is started and flow rate is adjusted according to detainee's condition and tolerance.

e. Typically, the feeding can be completed comfortably over 20 to 30 minutes.

f. After the feeding is completed, the medical staff removes the feeding tube.

10. Upon completion of the nutrient infusion and removal of the feeding tube, the detainee is removed from the restraint chair and placed in a "dry cell". The guard force will observe the detainee for 45--6O minutes for any indications of vomiting or attempts to induce vomiting.

ll. If the detainee vomits or attempts to induce vomiting in the "dry cell" his participation in the dry cell protocol will be revoked and he will remain in the restraint chair for the entire observation
time period during subsequent feedings.
[bolding mine]

l2. Steps 10 and ll are contingent upon adequate facility and staffing resources for the detainee census. The detainee will remain in the restraint chair for the feeding and observation periods if either resource is inadequate.

13. The total time the detainee is in the chair restraint system (to include the feeding process and the post-feeding observation) should not exceed 2 hours.
posted by jaduncan at 10:10 AM on July 8, 2013


I think cstross's latest blog post captures a pretty good insight on what's going on right now. This isn't an issue about the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, it's not about Bush or Obama, it's about the permanent "ruling party" and the way anyone who seeks election to high office is either assimilated into or rejected entirely by it. He presents a UK variation on the theme, but substitute Oxford for Harvard, etc., and you're off to the races.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:13 AM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


No, the reason we don't allow prisoners to voluntarily choose to starve themselves in an exercise of fully competent free speech is because we have sentenced them to a certain amount of time in prison and by god they will serve that sentence even if we have to force feed them. It's all part and parcel of our almost entirely retributive system of justice.

And in the case of Guantanamo we just skipped the whole sentencing part.
posted by odinsdream at 10:35 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks to thelaze, cacofonie and others who are clarifying here; I think the video is a bit misleading (although, actually, better than I would have thought about showing the standard procedure for NG tube insertion minus all the...explaining to the patient). As others have noted, NG tube insertion is very common and while uncomfortable shouldn't be painful or drawn out when performed on a consenting patient who understands the procedure. The key thing to focus on is the lack of consent here, not the procedure itself, which opens questions about medical ethics, hunger strikes, etc. more than torture. The procedure itself is common--I've done it, I've had it done to me--and I'm a bit wary of anyone having a knee-jerk "Torture!" reaction based on the ickiness of tube-down-nasogastric-tract.

That said, I feel NG tubes absolutely can be torturous. One insertion I had done to me was as a child with an inexperienced nurse who didn't use quite enough lube. It was a nightmare. It lasted half of forever, badly inflamed my nasal sinuses and made me dry retch for about an hour. A more experienced nurse surprised me by being very quick and painless about it later on; that's how it should be, and how it typically is (in US civilian care).

It's an unpleasant procedure that gives you this unheimlich "something-going-where-it-shouldn't" gagging feeling, so with non-consenting patients...yeah, I am very uncomfortable with that. The entire question of what to do with hunger striking prison patients is uncomfortable and complex. NG tube feeding is abstractly a humane solution, but in practice with non-consenting patients the unpleasantness of it is doubtless magnified. So I don't know.

Anything I might have to add has been said already. I just wanted to echo a few things I wasn't seeing said a whole lot here; namely just un-demonizing NG tube feeding as a procedure in itself. It's common, we do it a lot, it's usually not bad when someone understands what's going to happen. The issue here is not really specific medical protocols, so much as the idea of involuntary and non-consensual care. Which, yeah, ick.
posted by byanyothername at 10:56 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


In general, there is a strong current against allowing a prisoner to self-harm.

The evolution of language is a funny thing. Harm in this context means physical injury. But the word harm is related to the Old Norse word harmr, meaning grief or sorrow. To prevent the current meaning of the word, we inflict the previous meaning.
posted by compartment at 10:58 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


The issue here is not really specific medical protocols, so much as the idea of involuntary and non-consensual care.

But again, I think there's an argument that, at a certain point and in certain contexts, "involuntary and non-consensual care" IS a form of torture, especially if we look at definitions that go beyond "cause physical harm" (such as waterboarding, which causes no physical harm at all).

The Guantanamo bay prisoners are on a hunger strike for a reason. They are being force-fed (rather than, say, acceding to their demands) for a reason. We can't strip the force-feeding from this context and talk about the medical ethics of force-feeding prisoners absent the context of where those prisoners are and why they are there.
posted by muddgirl at 11:02 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I've had an NG tube put in a few times, including one memorable (by which I mean traumatic) time while awake. It is a miserable procedure even when done by caring medical staff you want to help, and I can't even begin to imagine having it done twice a day, against my will.

I think that the frequency of the procedure as done in Guantanamo, when in typical medical care it's done once when needed and left in, is a noteworthy aspect. There may be reasons that they have for doing it this way, but it can't be denied that having something done once when you are sick is different from having it done against your will, twice daily, forever. Having a raindrop land on your forehead is a pleasant and refreshing experience, but even that can be turned into torture if it's done repetitively enough, without consent or control.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:04 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The president can release them, but Congress won't authorize allowing them into the US. Their home countries also won't take them.

Well, we (UK) have a UK national there we've repeatedly stated we'd like back for the last few years (also a no-charges detainee). So far no return though, so maybe we say otherwise in private. Even Cameron is publicly stating he should be back in the UK though.
posted by jaduncan at 11:25 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


My boyfriend said the video was rough going; I couldn't watch it myself. Hell, I can't even imagine seeing someone I dislike suffer that, nevermind someone I love and respect as much as Yasiin Bey.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:28 AM on July 8, 2013


Lets get done with this once and for all.
The World Medical Association holds that it is unethical for a doctor to participate in force-feeding.
Put simply, force-feeding violates international law.
Not that the present regime cares much about International law or any law it seems that go against the ''Empire's'' interest, financial or military.
There is no comparing your granny or whoever having this procedure done to them kindly in a caring atmosphere.
This is the Bully boy macho posturing of a militarised state running amok where a large of proportion of the populace seems to have its head firmly inserted in its rectum.
posted by adamvasco at 11:29 AM on July 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Put simply, force-feeding violates international law.
Which law/treaty? Not a rhetorical question; I'm having trouble finding solid information on whether and which agreements this violates.
posted by ftm at 11:48 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


ftm
Not quoting numbers and subparagraphs but this pretty much covers it.
Because of force-feeding’s invasive nature, the World Medical Association (WMA), the preeminent international organization in the field of medical ethics and practice, has repeatedly condemned force-feeding of competent prisoners. The WMA’s Tokyo Declaration, adopted in 1975, states that doctors shall respect a competent prisoner’s right to refuse artificial feeding.[2] And, in its Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers, adopted in 1991 and revised in 2006 in large part due to developments in Guantánamo, the WMA states that “[f]orcible feeding is never ethically acceptable. Even if intended to benefit, feeding accompanied by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment.”[3] The American Medical Association, a member of the WMA, has endorsed these unequivocal principles, as evidenced by its April 25, 2013 letter to you. The International Committee of the Red Cross has similarly stated: “The ICRC is opposed to forced feeding or forced treatment; it is essential that the detainees’ choices be respected and their human dignity preserved.

But you know I don't really give a fuck what the paragraph number etc is. This is inhumane behaviour by a nation which holds itself up and endlessly brags to the world that it is a beacon of freedom and so called Christian values, all of which is bullshit.
I am angry. I am not an American and believe me when I say there are more and more people on the outside irate at the callous and illegal behaviour of the American State every day.
Obama can't do this, Obama can't do that. Why is he the Commander in Chief if he cannot command?
People say congress is the problem. I don't hear much about these politicians being taken publically to task for condoning Torture. Is it purely a military thing? Is America now so far in the clutchs of the military that it cannot control it?
Your country is becoming a more broken rogue state and a blight on the rest of the world by the day.
posted by adamvasco at 12:19 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, we (UK) have a UK national there we've repeatedly stated we'd like back for the last few years (also a no-charges detainee).

Yeah, I was trying to generalize for the entire population and of course, that seems like one of the big issues - they can't be dealt with in aggregate, and our government is pretty incompetent right now.

I'm not even going to deny that what Obama says in public (that he wants to close guantanamo and deal with all the prisoners sanely) may not match his back-room dealings, either.
posted by muddgirl at 12:21 PM on July 8, 2013


I shudder to think that the only thing we can do about this is sit back and hope that future generations will be duly sickened and outraged by America's ongoing dismissal of the rights of any and every human we have chosen to relegate to "enemy combatant" status. The horrors that are routinely visited upon the world in our name must not go quietly into the night.

     Put simply, force-feeding violates international law.

Which law/treaty? Not a rhetorical question; I'm having trouble finding solid information on whether and which agreements this violates.


In a 2009 review prepared by the vice chief of naval operations, the Pentagon found that force-feeding detainees at GTMO is totally legal. Quelle surprise!

However, an op-ed published by The Lancet (medical journal) later that year, Force-feeding prisoners and the role of physicians, suggests that force-feeding detainees may indeed violate Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. (A bit of background.)

Specifically, Article 3 prohibits "violence to life and person, in particular [...] cruel treatment and torture" as well as "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." It should be noted, though, that Section 3 also prohibits "the passing of sentences [...] without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples," which means GTMO's continued existence, given that its sole purpose is to mete out extrajudicial punishment to people who have not been formally charged with crimes, is in itself in violation of international convention. (See also: extrajudicial prisoners of the United States, more specifically ghost prisoners.) Which means, very plainly, that the United States has not given a single sliver of a fuck about the Geneva Conventions for many, many years.

To that end, a letter was drafted by the ACLU, signed by a number of international health and human rights organizations, and sent to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in April 2013 [PDF]. In part, it reads:
Force-feeding as used in Guantánamo violates Common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, which bar cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment. It also could violate the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, which prohibits the "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment" of prisoners "regardless of nationality or physical location." Indeed, a 2006 joint report submitted by five independent human rights experts of the United Nations Human Rights Council (formerly the U.N. Commission on Human Rights) found that the method of forcefeeding then used in Guantánamo, and which appears to remain in effect today, amounted to torture as defined in Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the United States ratified in 1994.
Alongside such notable human rights luminaries as Iran and Pakistan, we are also one of only three states to sign but fail to ratify Protocol I, which outlines the protection of victims of international armed conflict. The International Committee of the Red Cross recognizes Protocol I as customary international law for all states, regardless of their ratification status, but we don't really care because, like, freedom!

tl;dr -- The practice of force-feeding at GTMO violates the same international law as the existence of GTMO.
posted by divined by radio at 12:44 PM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


@ftm: Although not a law or treaty, the USA has voted in favour of the universal declaration of human rights. Here are some extracts

Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 9.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

I could go on.
posted by epo at 12:45 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Has anyone done a video like this for water boarding?

Christopher Hitchens: Believe Me, It’s Torture
posted by homunculus at 12:47 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Please don't forget all this when, a year or so before 2016, Obama somehow comes up with a method for slowly shutting down Guantanamo and the accolades begin.

I know presidential politics don't trump congress, but still -- when the primaries roll around and there are two main contenders, Hillary and someone to her left, who both call for liberal policy X, remember that it's a far cry between saying it and doing it. Doing it requires a willingness to risk one's own power to achieve one's principles -- something which Obama seems to lack.
posted by chortly at 1:04 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nor did I compare anyone to the Nazis in order to win any argument, merely to point out that there are reasons for jailers to prevent suicides amogst the prisoners.

So we can kill them ourselves when we're done with them?
posted by dirigibleman at 1:05 PM on July 8, 2013


No, the reason we don't allow prisoners to voluntarily choose to starve themselves in an exercise of fully competent free speech is because we have sentenced them to a certain amount of time in prison and by god they will serve that sentence even if we have to force feed them. It's all part and parcel of our almost entirely retributive system of justice.

The only argument for preventing prisoner suicide that I've heard seriously offered is that it makes it hard for prison officials to murder prisoners*, since they can't then use "suicide" as a cover. for murder I imagine it would be easy hold someone incommunicado in a cell and not feed them, and couldn't that look like a hunger strike?

* Not that I agree that this is a justification for force-feeding, and it seems like it's being done in the worst ways possible here, but this seems like one of those areas where all the options are shitty in one way or another.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 1:13 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


We have to force-feed them over there, so they can't force-feed us over here
posted by Renoroc at 2:15 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


‘Basically, discuss it as a failure of medical ethics, but I think comparing it to waterboarding is a disservice.’

Yeah I agree in terms of the physical reaction. But it’s still torture regardless of the relative level of discomfort. Pain isn’t the only determination of cruel or inhuman treatment. (Consider – they force you to have sex with a close relative. Not a physically painful thing. All other aspects of it are pretty horrific though.)

And it’s been well-established prior to the U.S. gimmicking the “interpretations” of the Geneva Conventions that force feeding someone on a hunger strike is torture. Violation of Common Article 3. It’s in plain English. Cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment is prohibited.

It’s been reiterated by the IC Red Cross, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, the World Medical Association, etc.etc. as noted above.

The UN Human Rights Council spelled out pretty plainly historically regarding the Convention Against Torture (which we’re in violation of since we signed that treaty).

Pain is relative. And essentially irrelevant as it concerns this topic. I think the video is a good illustration of how much of a violation it is – but there needs to be more contrast.

Plenty of people get intubated feeding. Vast difference between the technique as used to save someones’ life and forcefully using it to keep someone alive so you can … actually, that’s part of the rub.
Why exactly are they there? There’s no practical, useful legal answer.
They’re there because they’re there and they can’t be let go (with a few exceptions who should be/should have been charged).
Their status as prisoners is indefinite. Their value as assets is, at absolute best, marginal. Most of them were poor and unconnected – if they were well-connected they’d have influence and money working on getting them out – so even from a draconian perspective they have little use as hostages.
Symbols? That gets bandied around quite a bit. Yeah, I think they're symbols of two distinct bodies of thought on foreign policy.

“Which means, very plainly, that the United States has not given a single sliver of a fuck about the Geneva Conventions for many, many years.”

What strikes me is how much pain is being caused over so petty a thing. There’s really no need for all this. There’s this vast architecture in place, physical and mental, to keep a very, very small number of essentially nobodies - in some ways, particularly legally – actual non-entities in an ongoing Damnatio memoriae.

Can’t kill them. Can’t let them die. Can’t charge them. Can’t legally summon first principles why they’re there in the first place. But can’t let them go.
This over, what, thirty-odd guys more or less?
Some schmuck like Samir Moqbel is worth the time and energy? Over what is eventually going to come really bite us in the ass?

I mean in the secular sense of course. But the metaphorical “wrath of God” can be purely secular karma. Tear down the laws trying to catch the devil Thomas More sort of thing.
One of the things I’ve always liked about Vonnegut was how he could point out the flaw in the traditional perspective.

For example in Slaugherhouse Five some aliens look at the story of Christ and don’t take away that “Boy the Romans sure picked the wrong guy to execute that time!” but rather that Jesus really was just some schmuck carpenter from Nazareth who otherwise had some good ideas about being nice to people for a change and since he got in the way of some people who WERE well-connected, they decided to torture the hell out of him and execute him.
Because, fuck it, they can.
And just before he died God comes crashing down and says he’s had it with this kind of thing and from that moment on – and since the beginning (because hey, he’s God) the schmuck carpenter is, was, always will be, his Son with the full powers and privileges of the Son of the Creator of the Universe, forever. And from then on, anyone who messes with a nobody – especially some bum with no connections - better watch their ass.

“While it may be impossible for Obama to shut down Guantanamo (due to congress), is there anything actually legally prohibiting him from releasing those that we determine haven't committed any crimes?”


Other than Congress? Yeah the Supreme Court. Federal judges. Committees. Policy rules. Legislation stopping spending. Etc. etc.

It was sorta tactical. The fight on Boumedine forced the government to a place where they could stop the executive branch from sandbagging the process. They took detention transfer responsibilities away from military and intelligence personnel.

...But by then of course, there was a new executive.

Oh, and no guidelines for the federal judges (problems with which you might remember from the circus under Bush) so that every single decision not only has to be created, but fought in court. Not just over the facts, but over jurisdiction as well (thanks to the Al-Adahi decision) all while Congress conveniently ignoring the entire premise being false from first principles (according to the SCOTUS).

Neat!
Like playing Nomic with the guy from Memento.

Just recently (today, even) a judge ruled “she felt "constrained" in refusing to grant an injunction blocking the continued force-feeding of a group of detainees who are participating in a hunger strike”

I mean wtf. It's the very definition of "lawlessness."

Judge Kessler seems to feel that Obama, as CiC, can directly address the force feeding. Which, who am I to argue with a judge on a legal point? But politically? You go back to the Bush “the president can do whatever TF he wants at GITMO” doctrine.

TL:DR: The laws/rulings are clear – Gitmo detainees can’t be held indefinitely without trial, habeas corpus applies to them, combatant status is B.S. and the Geneva Conventions have been (and are being) violated.
But legislation and policy rules have stopped any implementation of a fix. The House Armed Services Committee for example just approved 200 million to keep the place open for example.

Obama seems pretty frustrated about it (apart from everyone and their brother feeling it’s ok to heckle him (and his wife) on issues they both actually agree on)

Gitmo starts at about: 46.30 (with interruptions from Beaker).

And Obama is looking to charge and prosecute the suspects that actually have evidence against them. That’s HUGE.

...it shouldn't be. But....

IMHO, that’s the division causing the problems – still. You have one faction that wants a unitary executive with a massive military system and the rest of us - and I’d put Obama in our camp – that want primacy of civilian law and justice.

Beyond those two divisions, in the civilian policing and prosecution of terrorism there are degrees, but those are the two big camps and a large part of the battle is being fought over Gitmo.

I find it singularly noble and sagacious that a lawyer would fight for his clients right to starve himself to death knowing this.


The best method to fight this, generally as a citizen, is to give money or volunteer time to the legal groups defending the detainees. Just getting them in to civilian courts is a win (all other considerations aside until that point of course).
posted by Smedleyman at 2:18 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Some viewers may find these images distressing" = CLICK HERE!

They want to lock you up for life, and now that won't even let you die!

That I think is the most depressing part of it all. For what is this done? WHY?

Judge Kessler seems to feel that Obama, as CiC, can directly address the force feeding. Which, who am I to argue with a judge on a legal point? But politically? You go back to the Bush “the president can do whatever TF he wants at GITMO” doctrine.

TL:DR: The laws/rulings are clear – Gitmo detainees can’t be held indefinitely without trial, habeas corpus applies to them, combatant status is B.S. and the Geneva Conventions have been (and are being) violated.
But legislation and policy rules have stopped any implementation of a fix. The House Armed Services Committee for example just approved 200 million to keep the place open for example.


I am more than a little confused here, but isn't the president the commander in chief of the military? Could he not stop this practice of force feeding strikers (at least during Ramadan) with "one telephone call"? Or is that (per the Joe Nocera NYT Op-Ed that Going to Maine linked) completely wrong?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:39 PM on July 8, 2013


Judge Kessler seems to feel that Obama, as CiC, can directly address the force feeding. Which, who am I to argue with a judge on a legal point? But politically? You go back to the Bush “the president can do whatever TF he wants at GITMO” doctrine.

Oops, meant to include this: here's a summary of Kessler's ruling from Politico.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:41 PM on July 8, 2013


Yeah, I was trying to generalize for the entire population and of course, that seems like one of the big issues - they can't be dealt with in aggregate, and our government is pretty incompetent right now.

I'm not even going to deny that what Obama says in public (that he wants to close guantanamo and deal with all the prisoners sanely) may not match his back-room dealings, either.

It just makes me a little cynical, because this is the perfect set of circumstances for a release. The UK is about as close an intel partner as one can get and MI5/police are trusted to look after people. We've handled the other people sent home fine (absent some vaguely embarrassing but totally unsurprising interviews) and it's frankly improbable that we'd let the people concerned get involved in any terrorist activities. We have also publicly asked for that person back on several occasions, and are close enough political allies of the US that keeping public opinion on side seems helpful to both parties.

If we aren't getting our last detainee back, I really wonder how viable the claims that other governments are making this impossible are.
posted by jaduncan at 3:30 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find it singularly noble and sagacious that a lawyer would fight for his clients right to starve himself to death knowing this.

A lawyer fighting to allow a client to kill themselves when they could otherwise live isn't doing their job. Perhaps you are not a lawyer, or you have not had a client who wishes to do harm to themselves. I have had both. I would never do this.

Its all well and good that a bunch of doctors overseas have decided its okay for prisoners to starve themselves to death. That does not make it our law or right. Note also that a bunch of doctors doesn't set international law. Law is set by states.

As for Geneva prohibiting this, one man's definition of degradation is another man's definition of preventing a prisoner from harming himself.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:05 PM on July 8, 2013


A lawyer fighting to allow a client to kill themselves when they could otherwise live isn't doing their job.

I shall be sure to inform Chahal and any of her colleagues who worked on the Purdy* euthanasia case that they weren't doing their job. This will be of interest to them, as it would appear that Bindmans may have billed clients incorrectly.

You say opinionated things very often. Today you have said something manifestly wrong.

* Purdy R (on the application of) v. Director of Public Prosecutions & Anor [2008] EWHC 2565 (QB) 29 October 2008, if you wish to look it up.
posted by jaduncan at 4:19 PM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


“I am more than a little confused here, but isn't the president the commander in chief of the military?”

Well, there’s the AUMF which made indefinite detention ok and put it on the executive branch, not the judiciary, to determine whether it’s legal or not (the president can detain people who "planned, authorized, committed, or aided" the 9/11 attacks).
Then the SCOTUS said federal courts have the rights to determine the legality of detainees at Gitmo.

So the Bush administration (kick-ass!) set up the tribunals and the “combatant” status review boards and Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act which told the SCOTUS to go f itself because the president unitary executive branch Title X CiC protect ‘merican people terrizm something or other.

Which the SCOTUS called B.S. on and said, no federal courts can determine the legality of detainees at Gitmo and about ¾ of the habeas cases worked on that basis.
However Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act with riders-o-rama that prohibits transfer of Gitmo detainees (with certain restrictions – none of which have, or practically can be, met).

So, not only can and has the president authorized the release of detainees and in accordance with the SCOTUS said that they can’t be held without trial and authorized the transfer of some of them to the U.S. he most certainly could pick up a phone and get POWs released from Gitmo because he’s the CiC.

Except he can’t because they’re not in the POW/penal system which is under the president, they’re in preventative detention to stop them from rejoining hostilities.

Sound like nonsense? It is!

The premise of the thing is that Gitmo is beyond the jurisdiction of the federal courts and non-citizens held there don’t have access to the same protections they would if they were held in the U.S.

The courts have some power over them though and exercised that in a number of rulings. Congress limited those powers though and obscured exactly what protections the prisoners have access to and – most importantly – how they can access them.
So if Obama wanted to pick up the phone and have one of them interrogated, not a problem. Since he has direct authority over that kind of behavior (from various laws, rulings, etc).

But since the AUMF, the NDAA, the SCOTUS rulings, etc. don’t address what the scope of the POTUS’ wartime (or “war”time) detention authority is regarding non-U.S. citizens (and indeed, U.S. citizens as well, the Jose Padilla thing alone remains a clusterfuck of epic proportions which not only created a complete and lasting chaos, but was in itself a tactic to avoid SCOTUS review and clarification of the Presidents powers on detainment, et.al) – we have no idea what they are either way. For good or ill. More detainment? Less?

Can the federal courts compel detainees to be released? If so, who makes the determination they’re being held unlawfully in the first place? Can a detainee fight transfer to foreign custody? If so – to who? Where?

What we’re talking about is how much military control over law the president has as the CiC and how much control the law has over the military.

In which role does Obama phone up Gitmo?

Whatever he does has long term consequences for wartime detention policy.

I certainly would like to see those people released if not, at least, not tortured indefinitely. But I’d like to see it never happen again. As it sits now, there’s no reason why it couldn’t. Him making a phone call certainly might fix some elements of this particular horrible thing. But the big picture remains.

I mean, we’ve basically shitcanned the idea we’re going to operate in parity with international law. Hell, Obama issued an executive order to close the place, that was ignored.

Except for Ahmed Ghailani. He was brought to the U.S. and tried. As heartening as it is to see someone responsible for an embassy bombing in jail (and as much as I think his illegal detention should have cost us) Congress cut the funding anyway.

Ghailani was sentenced to life. People still argue that he was acquitted of other charges (based on human rights violations) means the civilian system failed.

Just no-win crap all around.

If you remember the political circus surrounding Khalid Sheik Mohammed – you had the administration trying to bring him to federal court, then getting stonewalled, then going for the military commission thing – just to get anything pinned down legally.
That is – some certain rule. A law. Guideline. Something.

Nope.

Just measures and regulations fitted in National Defense Authorization acts (which basically pay the military) that are basically quasi-criminal, like the Soviets sending people off to psychiatric hospitals if they had well placed friends in criminal justice.
It’s important to know that the separation of powers is itself being gamed in a number of ways..

The prisoners – from their inception - have no status therefore no power can lay claim to or have responsibility for them without doing further damage to the system. There was never any intention to prosecute them in any way that didn’t further polarize power.

So, short answer – no. Not without helping destroy his own position.

The president, the DOJ, the AG, etc. have prosecutorial discretion in terms of federal courts, or tribunals or military commission, but legislatively they can be blocked by Congress rejiggering the “where” or stopping funding or – most effectively – leaving the avenues seemingly unblocked but indefinite in terms of how they can be exercised.

He picks up the phone, he buys into the unitary executive position and potentially overrules court decisions.
I mean, I could be right or I could be off base, but it’s in no way a simple thing. I mean, fixing this particular thing in isolation maybe. But yeah, could happen again.


“Perhaps you are not a lawyer, or you have not had a client who wishes to do harm to themselves.”

IANAL. But I have helped someone kill themselves. And I’d fucking do it again.


“Law is set by states.”

And treaties are….?

Part of the problem here is that there is no law. It takes someone trying to kill themselves in the only way they can to draw attention to that fact. It’s a travesty of justice.

“Its all well and good that a bunch of doctors overseas have decided its okay for prisoners to starve themselves to death. That does not make it our law or right.”

Y'know, it is all well and good. Makes you wonder why we’re not following it. Sounds flip but I'm in earnest. There are things more important than life itself.
I think damn few people have ever been in a position to understand that.

Perhaps you are not a warfighter, or you have not been in a position where it was preferable to die than be captured. I have been both. It is your duty to resist by all means available when captured. To make every effort to escape and to aid others. Col. Larry Guarino staged a hunger strike as a POW in Vietnam. He shared a cell with McCain for a bit. Bobby Sands is more apt here because his status as a POW was in question and there is that question here.

But I think refusing to eat is a valid tactic in the face of immoral actions by an enemy. I think it draws a great deal of attention and justifiably so if one thinks about it.

And I think there is an objective standard for the treatment of prisoners that is if not based in reciprocity and mutual obligation than at the very least in the recognition of universality of human rights and the self-destructive effect of ignoring them.

Applauding the lawyers here doesn’t mean I’m condemning the nurses or anyone else trying to save the lives of the detainees. But understanding what’s at stake and understanding that someone is willing to die on principle – and helping them – takes more than compassion. That's an entirely different level of dedication. Even if they're wrong, I can respect it. And I can't say for certainty where all the ethical bounds are, but I can appreciate the people putting in the effort for real.

Being on a hunger strike doesn’t make anyone Gandhi.
But it does amply demonstrate the reality of the status of power. They are in our power. We have failed to responsibly exercise it and have for all intents and purposes ended their lives by indefinitely suspending them.

Forcing them to eat doesn’t alleviate us of that failure of responsibility any more than simply filling their bellies restores their lives.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:34 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Its all well and good that a bunch of doctors overseas have decided its okay for prisoners to starve themselves to death.

Well, I don't know what country you are from, but in the US we generally allow individuals to direct their own medical care and to refuse procedures that would save their lives if they so wish. Last time I checked, a feeding tube is a medical issue, not a legal issue.

In the US our doctors have decided the ethics in this case are pretty clear.

Well, unless you think New England is some communist country.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:55 PM on July 8, 2013


Ann Neumann has done quite a bit of reporting on the issue of force feeding in the U.S. prison system.
posted by liketitanic at 7:27 PM on July 8, 2013


The Middling Mind has seen torture on 24 and torture in Saw. They have more votes.

I used to only read transcripts of Presidential speeches, until my brother laughed at me when I said that. Now I listen instead, and I love it.

Torture sucks though. It was used on our side in WWII but sparingly I guess from having watched the History channel back when it could be nicknamed the Hitler channel. You can't have your pudding unless you beat your feet. Beria beat the soles of the feet with sticks. Here we simulate drowning people. What do they do in China? Take all the air out of the room?
posted by saber_taylor at 8:36 PM on July 8, 2013


Torture sucks though. It was used on our side in WWII but sparingly

"We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess.
posted by homunculus at 9:16 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]



Has anyone done a video like this for water boarding?


MMA Trainer Ed Clay is another.

I find this one particularly notable because this is a tough guy, involved in combat sports, who doubtless has a higher-than-average tolerance for pain and discomfort.

He taps out within 30 seconds both times they do it to him.
posted by Broseph at 9:20 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


He taps out within 30 seconds both times they do it to him.

Non-coincidentally, you can go around 20 (maybe 25 for someone with impressive lung capacity) seconds by slowly breathing out through the nose to keep the water out. Call it another 5 seconds of panic before the tap.
posted by jaduncan at 4:22 AM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hitchens actually mentions that in passing: he asks why they were prodding his solar plexus, and the answer given is that it was to see if he was "cheating" via controlled breathing.
posted by frimble at 4:29 AM on July 9, 2013


Yes, one could probably expect a real world upgrade to a solid strike to the solar plexus. It's a bit dangerous for even an E&E course demo though, as large amounts of water can enter the lungs.
posted by jaduncan at 4:38 AM on July 9, 2013


Llama-Lime: It's not as simple as voting in the right administration. I wish it were, but it's not, the whole government is determined to continue the status quo, and there's too many people who want it to continue for a single administration to change it.

Maybe the EU should be using the current trade negotiations to raise the issue of the US' Human Rights record. If it can't be changed from within, maybe outside pressure is the answer. Would you get better results directly lobbying an important trading partner such as the EU to bring up Human Rights, rather of lobbying your senator? I feel America now has lost any legitimacy it had to lobby China on Human Rights issues, which won't help things progress in that part of the world either.

However, the scariest thing for me is, that those concerned about these issues are a figurative 1%. The rest of the population are either too patriotic to question it or too distracted to bother questioning it.
posted by guy72277 at 4:44 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


From Twitter:
[Sen Patrick] Leahy: do you agree that waterboarding is torture and is illegal?
[Director of FBI nominee James] Comey: yes
posted by zombieflanders at 7:44 AM on July 9, 2013


"It's not so easy for a swimmer like me to commit suicide by drowning. I landed on the nearest islet before the boat left the ship's side. I heard them pulling about in the dark, hailing, and so on, but after a bit they gave up. Everything quieted down and the anchorage became still as death. I sat down on a stone and began to think. I felt certain they would start searching for me at daylight. There was no place to hide on those stony things—and if there had been, what would have been the good? But now I was clear of that ship, I was not going back. So after a while I took off all my clothes, tied them up in a bundle with a stone inside, and dropped them in the deep water on the outer side of that islet. That was suicide enough for me. Let them think what they liked, but I didn't mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank—but that's not the same thing. I struck out for another of these little islands, and it was from that one that I first saw your riding light. Something to swim for. I went on easily, and on the way I came upon a flat rock a foot or two above water. In the daytime, I dare say, you might make it out with a glass from your poop. I scrambled up on it and rested myself for a bit. Then I made another start. That last spell must have been over a mile."

His whisper was getting fainter and fainter, and all the time he stared straight out through the porthole, in which there was not even a star to be seen. I had not interrupted him. There was something that made comment impossible in his narrative, or perhaps in himself; a sort of feeling, a quality, which I can't find a name for. And when he ceased, all I found was a futile whisper: "So you swam for our light?"

- Conrad, The Secret Sharer.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:22 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "suicide" of Guantanamo Bay prisoners is described as an act of "asymmetric warfare" against the United States. Force feeding is therefore in the stated or perceived self interest of the United States. Even if there are actual ethical grounds for force feeding, the decision makers have an obvious conflict of interest.

Its all well and good that a bunch of doctors overseas have decided its okay for prisoners to starve themselves to death. That does not make it our law or right.

A Guantanamo prisoner recently sought an injunction against force feeding. Yesterday he was denied relief on jurisdictional grounds. In the ruling, Judge Gladys Kessler appealed to President Obama to halt the force feedings. Here are some quotes from that ruling:

"Petitioner has set out in great detail in his papers what appears to be a consensus that force feeding of prisoners violates Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which prohibits torture or cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment."

"It is perfectly clear from the statements of detainees, as well as the statements from the organizations just cited, that force-feeding is a painful, humiliating, and degrading process."

"Even though this Court is obligated to dismiss the Application for lack of jurisdiction, and therefore lacks any authority to rule on Petitioner's request, there is an individual who does have the authority to address the issue. In a speech on May 23, 2013, President Barack Obama stated 'Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are holding a hunger strike. . . Is that who we are? Is that something that our founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave to our children? Our sense of justice is stronger than that.'"
posted by compartment at 10:46 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Gitmo Torture Obama Is Ignoring
posted by homunculus at 11:55 AM on July 9, 2013


Tweet Tweet
posted by gman at 9:41 AM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even if there are actual ethical grounds for force feeding, the decision makers have an obvious conflict of interest.

Y'know, what's amazing is how much unthinking is going on. There's a lot of effort devoted to avoid noticing the conflict.

Reading some of the public comments on news sites, etc. Wow. Ignorance is strength.

And I don't mean that as 1984 hyperbole. Sit and have a conversation with someone who feels strongly about this from the other side of the equation and watch the work at evasion.
That's not ingrained. It's as much learned behavior as racism is.

It's fun to ask "why not just kill them?" especially since even the high value guys are no longer intelligence assets. It's legal under the Geneva Conventions to execute unlawful combatants (at least, upon capture, I'm not sure about after hanging on to them for years)

Typically it's just a blank stare. Or parroting (e.g. most Americans support keeping it open, etc - regardless of whether this is true, false, indifferent - it's still an evasion)

There is NO answer - but purposefully so to avoid accountability.

Same with waterboarding. Is it torture? Isn't it? Well, y'know, whether it is or not (and it is) why waterboard someone who's been in custody ten years?
What is it you're going to learn the 103rd time you waterboard him you didn't learn the previous 102 times?
The ethic of any coercive technique aside once you break someone the problem is they're looking to tell you anything you want to hear.

"If you beat this prick long enough, he'll tell you he started the great Chicago fire, that don't necessarily make it fucking so." - Nice guy Eddie from Reservoir Dogs (referencing Napoleon's thoughts on torture)

And the problem becomes exponential as time in captivity goes on - regardless of treatment.

If they were being treated perfectly well, they're still being held in a lawless manner. Because the point of doing so is to evade responsibility.

I mean even summarily putting a bullet in their heads has a legal precedent (again, maybe not after keeping them on ice). Even whether that's disputed - it would still be taking some kind of responsibility for the issue.

As it sits, purely speculatively, I think it's in part about protecting the previous powers that be from prosecution, but also insulating us from reality checks on policy decisions.

I think we're going to see more ad hoc law, policing in extra-legal jurisdictions and less judicial review as a result of systemic change anyway.
Not positing a conspiracy theory here. You plant a seed, it grows.

And we can stop or reverse the trend. Just have to accept responsibility for our actions wrong or right.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:36 AM on July 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Judge Halts Groin Searches at Guantánamo, Calling Them Abhorrent to Muslims
posted by homunculus at 9:23 AM on July 12, 2013


The Deadly Science Of Force-Feeding: We've all seen the video of Yasiin Bey, formerly Mos Def, undergoing the force-feeding procedure used at Guantanamo Bay Prison. Here's what such a procedure could do to your health.
posted by homunculus at 1:04 PM on July 12, 2013


Bagram: The Other Guantanamo. The American government is still holding about 60 prisoners without charge at the Afghan prison
posted by homunculus at 4:28 PM on July 27, 2013


U.S. could save millions by paying each Gitmo prisoner $2 million annual salary to do nothing
posted by homunculus at 7:32 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


“I Was Forcibly Fed” - Prison torment for champion of women's vote by Sylvia Pankhurst, From McClure's, August 1913
posted by homunculus at 1:13 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


How far we've come in 100 years. After reading that account, there's no doubt in my mind that force-feeding is torture no matter how you do it. It is a human violation.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:22 AM on August 6, 2013


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