A prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, eyes and ears covered, is given a drink by a guard. PHOTO: Shane T. McCoy, public domain
A hunger strike at the military detention center in Guantanamo Bay is exposing the brutal conditions that prisoners live under, and the torturous treatment they receive from guards. The details are gruesome, and now we know them, because of an op-ed by a prisoner at Guantanamo, Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, published by the New York Times, titled "Gitmo Is Killing Me." That's not a figure of speech either. Be warned, this gets ugly:
I could have been home years ago — no one seriously thinks I am a threat — but still I am here. Years ago the military said I was a “guard” for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either.
Last month, on March 15, I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.
I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.
This is torture. Official torture ended when President Obama took office, but unofficial torture by U.S. official continues at Guantanamo. For no reason. There is nothing we could possibly be gaining from treating there prisoners, some of whom seem to be there for no reason, like this. If gun control advocates can round up enough political pressure to get background check expansion through the Senate (not a done deal, but likely), we ought to be able to find enough political will to finally close Guantanamo. Candidate Obama said he would close Guantanamo in 2008, but ran into resistance, mostly from Republicans, and dropped it as a low legislative priority. Well, it's well past time to close that prison, release whoever is there for no reason, and start treating the people there like human beings.