Thursday, February 09, 2006

I'm awake now! Did I miss anything?

Well, it seems the hunger strike in Gitmo is over.

Thanks to methods that were illegal, unethical, cruel, and reminiscent of conditions we used to associate with gulags and our worst enemies.

U.S. military officials at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, strapped hunger-striking prisoners into restraint chairs for hours to feed them through tubes and isolated them in cold cells, The New York Times said on Thursday.

A Pentagon official said there was no one immediately available to comment on the report.

The Times, citing unnamed military officials, said tougher measures came in recent weeks after authorities concluded some of the prisoners were determined to kill themselves.

The apparent result has been a sharp drop in the number of inmates refusing to eat. Only four hunger strikers remain, down from 84 at the end of December, the chief military spokesman at Guantanamo, Lt. Col. Jeremy M. Martin, told the newspaper on Wednesday.

But lawyers called the treatment abusive.

``It is clear that the government has ended the hunger strike through the use of force and through the most brutal and inhumane types of treatment,'' Thomas B. Wilner, a lawyer at Shearman & Sterling in Washington, told the newspaper.

``It is a disgrace,'' said Wilner, who last week visited the six Kuwaiti detainees he represents.

Guards began strapping the detainees into chairs for hours to feed them through tubes and prevent them vomiting afterwards, the Times said, citing unidentified military officials.
Abusive? I don't know. You tell me. Does a doctor causing a patient to violently throw up blood sound abusive to you?

Illegal and unethical, maybe? Yes, probably that, too.

Gee, what could these "detainees" possibly be upset about?

Prisoners began a round of hunger strikes in August to protest their indefinite detention at Guantanamo, which was set up in 2002 to hold foreign terrorism suspects and houses about 500 inmates. Only 10 of them have been charged with a crime.

The number of inmates refusing to eat peaked on September 11, the fourth anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks on America, when 131 prisoners -- more than a quarter of the total -- took part.
And what was done to them? Don't ask, because the military won't tell:

A Navy doctor in January told Reuters prisoners were not strapped down during feedings. Martin told the Times in a statement that ``a restraint system to aid detainee feeding'' was used but he would not answer questions about restraint chairs.
This was reported on the Netscape homepage as "breaking news." Not that the hunger strike was over; but that force-feedings were used against prisoners in Guantanamo.

"Lord, when did we see you in prison...?"

(Update: NPR provides an even more graphic description of what "force feeding" means. "Barbaric" is the right adjective, it seems to me.)

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