Guantanamo Bay Hunger Strikes: If Force-Feeding is Torture, Let the Gitmo Inmates Starve


My total disdain for mass murderers and terrorists has reached epic levels, yet I've spent very little time considering their treatment at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility until now. An op-ed in the New York Times, written by Joe Nocera, addresses a relatively new form of "torture" ... force-feeding of prisoners. (I wish the concern for the prisoners at Gitmo who wantonly murdered innocent people were redirected towards the inhumane conditions in American prisons.)

Let's face it, bleeding-heart liberals are going to rant and rave about the existence of Gitmo until it is finally shut down. President Obama has said he wants to close the prison time and again, yet he has not done so. In fact, Gitmo was a prime target in his 2008 campaign, when his criticism of the Bush administration relating to Gitmo was endless. Apparently, the new president realized that closing the prison was fraught with all sorts of derivative problems, the most important one being where to re-incarcerate the current prisoners.

After his election, to his credit, Obama did say "no more torture," at least what he defines as torture. So, waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques conducted to protect America and its citizens were no longer allowed. But the kudos bestowed upon the Obama administration might have been premature.

The bottom line is that Obama has broken his promise to close Gitmo many times. But now, liberals are attacking the president and efforts by the facility's officials to keep prisoners alive.

Prisoners have been conducting hunger strikes to protest their confinement. In response, jail keepers force-feed them to keep them alive. Organizations such as the Red Cross, the World Medical Association, and the United Nations "[have] labeled [force-feeding] a violation on the ban of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment." The same organizations "have recognized the right of prisoners of sound mind to go on a hunger strike."

I didn't realize that people in jail had any rights other than to be treated humanely, not tortured, and have access to counsel. They forfeited all other rights when they built their bombs and killed and mutilated others. Now, humanitarian institutions are claiming that prisoners have a right to kill themselves. This begs the question of whether the same right will be (and should be) extended to people incarcerated in the U.S., most of whom are citizens.

In any case, Gitmo officials are trying to keep these people alive. As I see it, there are only two other alternatives to force-feeding: allow prisoners to starve themselves and die or release them. Option one is not a crazy idea. I suspect very few prisoners will ever see the light of day. So, if they are of "sound mind", and they want to die in protest, we should let them do it. 

Option two is absurd. Why would the U.S. release people who are mortal enemies and committed crimes against humanity? I think we all agree this option is a non-starter.

Force-feeding, according to reports, is a gruesome procedure. The Times article describes the techniques down to the chair used to restrain prisoners in the process: "[it] looks like the electric chair." The chair is not being used to electrocute anyone, so the reference to a device used to terminate criminals was inflammatory and bad reporting by the newspaper.

The article contains a quote from a professor of medicine and bioethics at a large university who said, "The presence of the military's force-feeding policy in the face of international law, and the manner in which it is done, constitutes torture."

If we agree that force-feeding is torture, and Obama is against torture, he should immediately allow prisoners to starve themselves. Those of us who are against force-feeding should not protest the deaths that are likely to occur from this new policy.

The liberal opponents of Gitmo are digging themselves into a hole. There are no easy ways out of this predicament. The prisoners are dangerous, so they should not be released to kill again. That being said, the prisoners can either be allowed to end their lives or Gitmo officials can force them to eat. Neither option is ideal.