Friday, May 16, 2014

Force-Feedings at Guantánamo

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: barry levine 
Date: Fri, May 16, 2014 at 8:25 AM
Subject: re: Force-Feedings at Guantánamo
To: ""

To the Editor:
    In his Second Treatise on Government, John Locke asserts a basic right to die. Since our Founding Fathers based the structure of the U.S. government on Locke's writings, we need to take his argument seriously. Locke finds that a prison system is legitimate because the State has the legitimate power to execute a criminal. It follows that--since that prisoner can end his term by dying, that imprisonment is a lesser punishment than death. Where the State has the greater power (of execution), it must have the lesser power (of imprisonment).
     Forced feedings in Guantanamo, as elsewhere violate prisoners' right to die. Without that, their very imprisonment is on shaky ground.
Barry Haskell Levine

The Opinion Pages | EDITORIAL

Force-Feedings at Guantánamo


    This week, one of the lawsuits by a Guantánamo detainee produced news that the military has apparently been videotaping its force-feedings of prisoners who have been attempting a hunger strike to protest their confinement and treatment. Pentagon officials admitted last year that the cause of the hunger strike was prisoners’ despairing that they would ever be released.Nothing comes to light easily at the Guantánamo Bay military prison in Cuba where 154 detainees are held on suspicion of terrorist activities. Some have been incarcerated for more than a decade, in a legal limbo that remains a grave embarrassment to American justice.
    The disclosure is important because a federal appeals court in the District of Columbia decided in February that while it would not initially block the force-feedings (in which prisoners are restrained and fed by a tube through the nose), it would retain jurisdiction and hear prisoners’ complaints of inhumane treatment as part of a habeas corpus lawsuit. This could prove to be one of the more promising avenues in the struggle to expose the woeful situation at Guantánamo to greater public attention.
    Detainees’ lawyers have asked the court to issue an emergency order to prevent the government from destroying any existing video recordings of the force-feedings, after learning of their existence on May 13. Seven years ago at the height of the controversy over waterboarding, the Central Intelligence Agency was found to have destroyed videotapes of interrogation sessions using that torture technique.
    President Obama has sought to shut down Guantánamo, but Congress has barred the transfer of detainees to mainland prisons. Administration lawyers insisted this week that there would be “robust protection” of national security if the detainees were transferred, but Congress remains adamant in refusing to close the facility.
    The court should order the military to preserve the tapes and to hand them over to the prisoners’ lawyers. The hunger strike and force-feedings are a sorry chapter in the long-running travesty of justice that festers in Guantánamo.

    1 comment:

    levinebar said...