In a welcome development, President Obama has reaffirmed his pledge to close Guantanamo. Let's encourage him to take swift and decisive action. The current situation is extremely dire. A majority of the 166 prisoners, afraid that they will be left to die in Guantanamo without ever being charged with a crime, are participating in a hunger strike that started on February 6 (nearly three months ago). The government reports that 100 prisoners are taking part, while detainee lawyers place the figure at over 130.
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.The president of the American Medical Association has condemned the force feeding policy in a public letter to Secretary of Defense Hagel,
Here is what everyone needs to know about Guantanamo. A total of 779 prisoners have been sent to the detention center, of whom 604 have subsequently been transferred (almost all of them now free). Nine have died in custody. Of the remaining 166 prisoners, only nine have been charged with a crime. Ironically, conviction often leads to early release, prompting Morris Davis, a former Guantanamo prosecutor, to write,
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.Compounding the injustice is the fact that 86 of the 166 prisoners were cleared for transfer in 2010, following a rigorous inter-departmental review process in the Obama administration. Yet more than three years later they remain in Guantanamo.