[Ppnews] Guantanamo Prisoners 3 weeks into a Hunger Strike

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sun Mar 10 01:04:04 EST 2013

  If Guantanamo Prisoners Stage a Hunger Strike, Does Anybody Care?
  (Hint: Yes)

Adam Clark Estes 
<http://www.theatlanticwire.com/authors/adam-clark-estes/> Mar 4, 2013

Despite the lawyers of over a dozen inmates reporting a widespread 
hunger strike happening right now inside Guantanamo, a prison 
spokesperson issued a no-such-thing statement 
on Monday. The alleged hunger strike started over three weeks ago when, 
in the lawyers' words, guards began confiscating  "personal items, 
including blankets, sheets, towels, mats, razors, toothbrushes, books, 
family photos, religious CDs, and letters, including legal mail; 
and restricting their exercise, seemingly without provocation or cause." 
The lawyers continued in a letter 
to prison commander, Rear Adm. John Smith, "Arabic interpreters employed 
by the prison have been searching the men's Qur'ans in ways 
that constitute desecration according to their religious beliefs, and 
that guards have been disrespectful during prayer times." These lawyers 
weren't talking about one or two prisoners, by the way. They say these 
transgressions and the hunger strike that's followed affects "all but a 
few men."

But it's cool because the government says it's not true, right? Wrong! 
If you've read anything about Guantanamo and its treatment of prisoners 
over the years, you'll know that there's a long history of duplicitous 
behavior that ranges from the top of the command chain all the way down 
to the guards themselves. When we mention to the top of the command 
chain, we're talking about none other than President Barack Obama 
himself, who promised years ago in an Executive Order to close the 
secretive facility and send the inmates to a regular old Illinois prison 
<http://all%20but%20a%20few%20men%E2%80%9D>. Instead, as Glenn Greenwald 
explains <http://www.salon.com/2012/07/23/the_obama_gitmo_myth/>, "the 
rights of detainees --- including the basic right to legal counsel --- 
are being constricted further, in plainly vindictive ways." At the 
bottom of the command chain, that's translated into hidden cameras being 
installed in the rooms where detainees meet with their lawyers. A Navy 
officer revealed the existence of these cameras last month 
after government officials denied their existence.

This is the sort of thing that makes human rights advocates curl into 
corners and cry onto their knee caps. On one hand, you have a team of 
lawyers --- who've been put in the very difficult position of defending 
suspected terrorists --- doing their best to stand up for their clients' 
human rights, when the government that's imprisoned these men has 
historically neglected these prisoners' rights 
Nobody's asking the Obama administration to let terrorists run free. 
They're just asking for humane treatment while in detention, a fair 
trial and maybe that the guards don't deliberately insult the prisoners' 
religion. On the other hand, you have this Guantanamo spokesman who has 
to deal with what's undeniably a rage-inducing report that prisoners are 
being so poorly treated that they're willing to starve to death rather 
than continue living in squalor. News like this is exactly how Al Qaeda 
recruits terrorists to kill Americans 
So if the spokesman confirms the hunger strike, he's damned by the 
terrorists. If he doesn't, he's damned by the human rights advocates. 
It's a damned-if-you-and-damned-if-you-don't scenario. Also known as a 
Catch 22.

So the answer to that question in the headline is absolutely yes. Lots 
of people care 
if the prisoners in Guantanamo go on a hunger strike, because it serves 
as proof to the outside world that they're continuing to be mistreated. 
Lots of people also care 
<http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/doublespeak-war-terror> if 
the prisoners don't go on a hunger strike, and their lawyers say they 
did --- which is basically what we have to assume is the case if we 
believe Guantanamo officials. Given the government's history of 
doublespeak, nobody knows who to believe.

We'll leave you with this thought: Hunger strike or no hunger strike, 
Guantanamo's record and reputation is appalling and it's only getting 
And it's almost impossible to find the middle ground between the 
practical reasons 
for keeping the prison open and the moral reasons for closing it as soon 
as possible. As Greenwald pointed out in a recent column, "More 
detainees have died at the camp (nine) than have been convicted of 
wrongdoing by its military commissions (six 
And some of these prisoners died without even getting the chance to 
defend themselves. Greenwald continues, "Indeed, dying in due 
process-free captivity now appears to be the only way for many of these 
detainees to leave." Are you appalled yet?

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