Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Gitmo: Where death is preferable to life

Expand Messages
  • Romi Elnagar
    The Intolerable Conditions Inside Obama s Guantanamo Gitmo: Where Death is Preferable to Life by MARJORIE COHN More than 100 of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo
    Message 1 of 1 , May 13, 2013
      The Intolerable Conditions Inside Obama's Guantanamo
      Gitmo: Where Death is Preferable to Life
      More than 100 of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo are starving
      themselves to death. Twenty-three of them are being force-fed. “They
      strap you to a chair, tie up your wrists, your legs, your forehead and
      tightly around the waist,” Fayiz Al-Kandari told his lawyer, Lt. Col.
      Barry Wingard. Al-Kandari, a Kuwaiti held at Guantanamo for 11 years,
      has never been charged with a crime.
      “The tube makes his eyes water excessively and blood begins to
      trickle from the nose. Once the tube passes his throat the gag reflex
      kicks in. Warm liquid is poured into the body for 45 minutes to two
      hours. He feels like his body is going to convulse and often vomits,”
      Wingard added.
      The United Nations Human Rights Council concluded that force-feeding
      amounts to torture. The American Medical Association says that
      force-feeding violates medical ethics. “Every competent patient has the
      right to refuse medical intervention, including life-sustaining
      interventions,” AMA President Jeremy Lazarus wrote to Defense Secretary
      Chuck Hagel. Yet President Barack Obama continues the tortuous Bush
      policy of force-feeding hunger strikers.
      Although a few days after his first inauguration, Obama promised to
      shutter Guantanamo, it remains open. “I continue to believe that we’ve
      got to close Guantanamo,” Obama declared in his April 30 press
      conference. But, he added, “Congress determined that they would not let
      us close it.” Obama signed a bill that Congress passed which erected
      barriers to closure. According to a Los Angeles Times editorial,
      “Obama has refused to expend political capital on closing Guantanamo.
      Rather than veto the defense authorization bills that have limited his
      ability to transfer inmates, he has signed them while raising questions
      about whether they intruded on his constitutional authority.”
      “I don’t want these individuals to die,” Obama told reporters. In
      fact, Obama has the power to save the hunger strikers’ lives without
      torturing them. Eighty-six – more than half – of the detainees
      remaining at Guantanamo have been cleared for release for the past three years.
      Section 1028(d) of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act empowers
      the Secretary of Defense to approve transfers of detainees when it is in the national security interest of the United States. Fifty-six of the
      86 cleared detainees are from Yemen. Yet Obama imposed a ban on
      releasing any of them following the foiled 2009 Christmas bomb plot by a Nigerian man who was recruited in Yemen. Obama must begin signing these certifications and waivers at once.
      Indeed, Obama said in his press conference, “I think – well, you
      know, I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe . . . It hurts us in terms of our
      international standing . . . It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed.”
      In addition, Obama’s March 7, 2011 Executive Order 13567 provides for additional administrative review of detainees’ cases. The Periodic
      Review Board (PRB) would provide an opportunity for a detainee to
      challenge his continued detention. Yet Obama has delayed by more than a
      year PRB hearings at which other detainees could be cleared for release. Despite a requirement that the PRB begin review within one year, no PRB has yet been created. Obama should appoint an official to oversee the
      closure of Guantanamo and commence periodic reviews immediately so that
      detainees can challenge their designations and additional detainees can
      be approved for transfer.
      Moreover, as suggested by Lt. Col. David Frakt, who represented
      Guantanamo detainees before the military commissions and in federal
      habeas corpus proceedings, Obama should direct the attorney general to
      inform the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that the Department of Justice
      no longer considers the cleared detainees to be detainable. Obama has
      blocked the release of eight cleared detainees by opposing their habeas
      corpus petitions. “[W]hen the Obama administration really wants to
      transfer a detainee, they are quite capable of doing so,” Frakt wrote in JURIST.
      The Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment, which
      includes two former senior U.S. generals, and a Republican former
      congressman and lawyer, Asa Hutchinson, issued a report that concluded
      the treatment and indefinite detention of the Guantanamo detainees is
      “abhorrent and intolerable.” It called for the closure of the prison
      camp by next year.
      Twenty-five former Guantanamo detainees issued a statement
      recommending that the American medical profession stop its complicity
      with abuse force-feeding techniques; conditions on confinement for
      detainees be improved immediately; all detainees who have not been
      charged be released; and the military commissions process be ended and
      all those be charged tried in line with the Geneva Conventions.
      The detainees who are refusing food have been stripped of all
      possessions, including a sleeping mat and soap, and are made to sleep on concrete floors in freezing solitary cells. “It is possible that I may
      die in here,” said Shaker Aamer through his lawyer, Clive Stafford
      Smith. “I hope not, but if I do die, please tell my children that I
      loved them above all else, but that I had to stand up for the principle
      that they cannot just keep holding people without a trial, especially
      when they have been cleared for release.” Aamer, a British father of
      four, was approved for release more than five years ago.
      Col. Morris Davis, who served as Chief Prosecutor for the Terrorism
      Trials at Guantanamo, personally charged Osama bin Laden’s driver Salim
      Hamdan, Australian David Hicks, and Canadian teen Omar Khadr. All three
      were convicted and have been released from Guantanamo. “There is
      something fundamentally wrong with a system where not being charged with a war crime keeps you locked away indefinitely and a war crime
      conviction is your ticket home,” Davis wrote to Obama.
      Marjorie Cohn is a professor of human rights at Thomas Jefferson School and former
      president of the National Lawyers Guild. Her most recent book is “The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse.” Seewww.marjoriecohn.com.


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.