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February 09, 2006

Takes a real tough guy to forcefeed a restrained detainee

Tough [sic] U.S. Steps in Hunger Strike at Camp in Cuba
United States military authorities have taken tougher measures to force-feed detainees engaged in hunger strikes at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, after concluding that some were determined to commit suicide to protest their indefinite confinement, military officials have said.

In recent weeks, the officials said, guards have begun strapping recalcitrant detainees into "restraint chairs," sometimes for hours a day, to feed them through tubes and prevent them from deliberately vomiting afterward. Detainees who refuse to eat have also been placed in isolation for extended periods in what the officials said was an effort to keep them from being encouraged by other hunger strikers. The measures appear to have had drastic effects. The chief military spokesman at Guantánamo, Lt. Col. Jeremy M. Martin, said yesterday that the number of detainees on hunger strike had dropped to 4 from 84 at the end of December.

Some officials said the new actions reflected concern at Guantánamo and the Pentagon that the protests were becoming difficult to control and that the death of one or more prisoners could intensify international criticism of the detention center. Colonel Martin said force-feeding was carried out "in a humane and compassionate manner" and only when necessary to keep the prisoners alive. H e said in a statement that "a restraint system to aid detainee feeding" was being used but refused to answer questions about the restraint chairs. [NYT permalink]


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Oh, yeah, the restraint chairs. Who would have thought there was a specific market for such devices?

Gosh, those terrorists have to be force fed Orange Glazed Chicken and Rice Pilaf? I should be so lucky. Why can't someone arrest me so I can get sent away to Gitmo to live the life of Riley?

Yeah, cause force-feeding people is so humane. Has anyone seen "Iron Jawed Angels"?

Women's Suffrage activists committed and then force-fed after going on a hunger strike.

Made me want to vomit.

If we didn't force feed them, and instead allowed them to starve to death --- you'd be writing today about the inhumane treatement of terrorists...errrr...detainees at the hands of the Bush Regime.

You would have demanded to know why President Bush didn't do more to prevent them from starving themselves to death. Why he didn't do something like...well...force feed them if necessary.

Of course we know what the Liberal Left thinks is the solution to this entire problem: let them all go back to the al Quaeda training camps and terrorist cells from whence they came.

You're right. No good can come of locking people up indefinitely without trial and disregarding their rights. It's a no win situation: Either they rot there forever, or they take their own lives. Pretty stupid of the government to set it up that way, huh?

Who's been leaking our secret Liberal Left memos?

*raises hand*

That would be me, I'm the mole.

Dear Lindsay:
Enemy soldiers captured during war can be held for the duration of the conflict. They have no constitutional rights. They get no lawyer and no trial. They are called prisoners of war
The Guantanamo prisoners don't even rise to the level of POW's. They don't wear uniforms or bear arms openly. They hide among and attack civilians. They do not obey the laws of war and are therefore not entitled to the protections of any treaty.
They are illegal combatants whose status is about the same as spies. In other words, they have no rights. They can be executed upon capture.
As such, they are getting much better than they deserve. Why give them more protection than a real POW who fights honorably and obeys the laws of war?
What you are really attempting to do is confer new rights where they have never existed before.
Interestingly enough the people whose rights you are so concerned about would gladly slaughter you and everone you care about without a second thought.
I'm a conservative, you are a liberal but the enemy makes no such distinction. We are all infidels and deserve death equally as far as they are concerned. What is it that drives you to advocate for our common enemy?

Steve, we have no idea who most of the guys at Gitmo are, or what they've done, because the government won't tell us, let alone prove its allegations against the detainees in some sort of trial.

"Unlawful combattant" is a bogus neologism. It's an excuse to hold people indefinitely under deplorable conditions. At least with POWs the status of captured prisoners is mutually acknowledged--they are innocent, but they must be detained in humane conditions until the end of hostilities. By creating a new class of unlawful combattant the US is asserting its right to detain people indefinitely without ever determining their status. Are these people really Jihadis? Or were they just ordinary victims of mistaken identity? We don't know, and yet we're prepared to lock these people up forever and treat them worse than convicted American criminals.


1. You are defining war relative to how it has been fought in the recent past, and then say that terrorists do not count as POWs when captured. So, question: when Americans, French, and British used guerilla tactics against each other and when the standard form of warfare was to stand in a nice line and shoot each other, should they not then have been shown mercy? Terrorists are neither the first to attack civilians, to use terror tactics to fight an enemy, nor to take advantage of civilian populations. The history of tactics JUST IS the (fucking) history of warfare. So they fight dirty: when has war ever been clean? Nothing you have said backs up your claim that we should not give them all the benefits of a POW.

2. It is a mistake to think that they would kill my family without a second thought. I do not support the invasion of their homeland, nor do I present a front to their religion. Notice they were just fine not to kill Americans back then Americans were helping them fight the Soviets (as I recall, Osama was TRAINED by americans). So whether they want to kill (or my family) is contingent on a bunch of things which are not true of me.

3. "What is it that drives you to advocate for our common enemy?" Why, the same thing that has presumably always driven people to show quarter, mercy, or campassion in a time of war. Nothing about liberals advocating for their "enemy" is out of place: in fact, in war, ideally, it is the norm. At least one hopes so, if one considers their nation built on lofty things like honour, duty, and good will towards others. What is generally more unusual, one hopes, is the sort actions of the current GOP, and their general disregard for things like honour, in light of them treating their enemies in the manner they do.

I believe your position rest on a misunderstanding of warfare, and what it entails concerning ones enemy.

Dear Lindsay
You many not be willing to acknowledge who those people are but the fact is that they are terrorists. There are only a few hundred prisoners at Guantanamo. What purpose could it possibly serve to hold a couple of hundred innocent shepherds while letting killers go free? You'd have to believe that Bush is the next coming of Hitler to........oh nevermind.
Everything I've heard about Guantanamo indicates to me that the prisoners there have it pretty good. They get medical care, three squares a day, they are allowed to practice their perverted version of Islam and they get to lounge around in the tropical sunshine all day. They may even get to smoke cuban cigars for all I know. I've never seen anything indicating that their conditions are deplorable.
I though that Illegal combatant is a term understood by everyone. The criteria to qualify for POW status have been clearly defined through various treaties over the years. It's well established that certain people qualify and certain people do not. A person captured in arms while wearing civilian clothes would be an example of someone who does not qualify for POW status - an illegal combatant. The common practice throughout the years has been to execute such individuals.
The people being held at Gitmo would gladly visit 9/11 times one hundred if we gave them the chance. There are plenty of people in the world who deserve our sympathy and advocacy but they are not among them

How do you know that they're terrorists? If they're really terrorists, why not try them and sentence them to something? The government has had years to build cases against these people. We can't tell whether enemy combatant designations were made correctly because there's no independent appeals process.

From the National Journal, via Americablog:

A high percentage, perhaps the majority, of the 500-odd men now held at Guantanamo were not captured on any battlefield, let alone on "the battlefield in Afghanistan" (as Bush asserted) while "trying to kill American forces" (as McClellan claimed).

Fewer than 20 percent of the Guantanamo detainees, the best available evidence suggests, have ever been Qaeda members.

Many scores, and perhaps hundreds, of the detainees were not even Taliban foot soldiers, let alone Qaeda terrorists. They were innocent, wrongly seized noncombatants with no intention of joining the Qaeda campaign to murder Americans.

The majority were not captured by U.S. forces but rather handed over by reward-seeking Pakistanis and Afghan warlords and by villagers of highly doubtful reliability.

Personally, my liberal ethics include the right to suicide. So while Gitmo prisoners starving themselves to death would be condemnable, THIS IS WORSE. I can think of no greater violation of liberty than interference in basic bodily functions.

(I also woulda been kind of OK if they'd been declared actual POWs in a war against Al Queda. And told they'd be released when Al Queda surrenders. Never gonna happen? Well, there's the breaks for fighting on behalf of a non-state entity.)

1. American soldier/guerillas in the revolutionary war would fit the definition (such as it is) of "illegal combatant".
2. Why does the reactionary -AKA "conservative"- mindset lust for vengance, whatever the provocation?

"Dear Lindsay:
Enemy soldiers captured during war can be held for the duration of the conflict. They have no constitutional rights. They get no lawyer and no trial."

Wrong Steve... as Senator McCaine pointed out according to the Geneva Conventions, to which we are a signatory, they are entitled to a hearing to determine their "status" as to whether they are enemy combatants or not. This has not been done and some of the Gitmo detainees were released because it was felt that they were "in the wrong place at the wrong time."But most have never had the opportunity to even state their case.

The President does not have the power to disregard treaties that we have signed. McCaine was adamant that Bush must give them that status hearing.

You are correct in that they are not entitled to all of the legal protections as US citizens are. The government tried to do that to US citizens as well and it went to SCOTUS and they lost... "Hamdhi vs. Rumsfeld."


For someone who's supposed to be a big, manly Republican, you sure are easy to scare into compliance.

Unlawful combatant status, by the way, isn't "understood by everyone." It'd be more accurate to say it's not understood by anyone. The contours of the designation aren't exactly clear.

Dear Lindsay,
This is quite a fan club you have here.
Everything that Brendan and Flint wrote is flat wrong. I have no interest in responding to them.
I read that article that Trysetero posted. It’s obvious that the author has a big fat axe to grind against the Bush administration so I see no reason to trust that his analysis is done in good faith.
Thad like a lot of men of the left seems to be obsessed with other peoples manliness. It’s just so lame to question my manhood over the internet. Why don’t we just stick to talking about ideas instead?
So I’d like to ignore the peanut gallery from now on and just talk to you. To answer your question, I have no way of knowing the exact status of every detainee at Gitmo. I do know that they have released about a third of the people that they have held there so we can assume that there is some process in place to weed out the innocent. A few of those released have been recaptured or killed in combat so if anything the standards for releasing people appears to be too lenient.
I also have to just use my common sense. It is expensive in time, resources and manpower to run Gitmo. With all of the dangerous fanatics out there why would our military waste time, money and manpower to detain five hundred innocent shepherds? Obviously they have no reason to and every reason to be as sure as they can that they are holding the right people.
Is it possible that some innocent men have had their lives disrupted? Of course it is. But wars are full of injustice and they always have been. It is unrealistic to expect our government to fight a war and never make a mistake. Wars are a series of disasters followed by catastrophes, even for the victor. Why should this one be any different?
Your point about trying these men and sentencing them is well taken but I can’t agree. Despite what has been said by your admirers, these men are terrorists and as such enjoy no geneva convention protections. The whole idea of the standards of treatment for POW’s or any of the laws of war is reciprocity. In other words, you treat our guys humanely and we’ll do the same for yours. Terrorists are in fact exempted from protection in order to discourage barbaric behavior. The Gitmo detainees are being treated according to Geneva standards but we are under no obligation to do so.
If a man who had adhered to the laws of war, is a lawful combatant and has been captured has no constitutional protection, no right to legal counsel, and no right to access to our courts, there is no reason to extend those rights to illegal combatants who are beneath POW’s in status.
During the battle of the bulge in WW 2, German soldiers were captured in American uniforms attempting to cause disruptions behind American lines. Anyone who has watched a little history channel has seen the films of those soldiers being lined up against walls and shot. Those men were the soldiers of an actual nation fighting the soldiers of another nation, but because the were captured out of uniform, they didn’t get to go to POW camp or prison, they got to die. Today’s terrorist, because of their failure to obey the laws of war, occupies a similar standing.
It’s legal but not politically possible in the modern touchy feely age to just line these men up and shoot them when they are captured but we have to do something with them and we can’t just set them free to prey on innocent people.
Lindsay, there is nothing wrong with your having a natural distrust of government. The libertarian in me shares the same impulse. Just try dealing with the IRS once if you want to have your faith in benevolent government shattered. By the way, do you know what the definition of a libertarian is? A Republican that smokes pot.
But this is war. At some point you have to decide what side you’re on. I’m on the side of my country and the liberal values of western civilization. So, if I have the choice between giving the benefit of the doubt to the US army versus a bunch of savages whose idea of reality TV is sawing the head off of some innocent dude who never hurt anyone, I’m going to come down on the side of the USA every time. My question to you is, given the threat that we both face, why is it that you always seem to come down on the opposite side? What emotion drives you to that?
I hope that we’ll have the opportunity to have many debates and disagreements over the years. It will never come to pass however if those bastards kill us, and make no mistake about it, they will if we give them even half a chance.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go play with my dog.

So I’d like to ignore the peanut gallery from now on and just talk to you.

LA LA LA LA LA LA LA...Brendan, Flint, Trystero: He can't hear you! LA LA LA LA LA LA...


If you don't want to talk to the nuts, then why did you tell us instead of just emailing her?

That aside, many of us made factual claims (namely, about the history of warfare, and the american revolution). Perhaps you could tell us where we are mistaken. Since my own argument, at least, depends on such claims, seems reasonable that it is in my interpretation of US history that I find error. I am, after all, Canadian so this is more than possible. However, I learn nothing if you merely say I am wrong and leave it at that.

Also, I in no way admire Lindsay. Girls are icky. So there. To insinuate that I do does a diservice to the opinions that I have expressed.

According to Defense Department data (summarized here):

1. Fifty-five percent (55%) of the detainees are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies.

2. Only 8% of the detainees were characterized as al Qaeda fighters. Of the remaining detainees, 40% have no definitive connection with al Qaeda at all and 18% are have no definitive affiliation with either al Qaeda or the Taliban.

3. The Government has detained numerous persons based on mere affiliations with a large number of groups that in fact, are not on the Department of Homeland Security terrorist watchlist. Moreover, the nexus between such a detainee and such organizations varies considerably. Eight percent are detained because they are deemed "fighters for;" 30% considered "members of;" a large majority - 60% -- are detained merely because they are "associated with" a group or groups the Government asserts are terrorist organizations. For 2% of the prisoners their nexus to any terrorist group is unidentified.

4. Only 5% of the detainees were captured by United States forces. 86% of the detainees were arrested by either Pakistan or the Northern Alliance and turned over to United States custody. This 86% of the detainees captured by Pakistan or the Northern Alliance were handed over to the United States at a time in which the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected enemies.

5. Finally, the population of persons deemed not to be enemy combatants - mostly Uighers - are in fact accused of more serious allegations than a great many persons still deemed to be enemy combatants.

I'm very glad Steve isn't listening to me anymore. I wouldn't want his exploding head on my conscience.

I read that article that Trysetero posted. It’s obvious that the author has a big fat axe to grind against the Bush administration

For someone with an axe to grind, he sure did a lot of defending of the interrogation techniques utilised there.

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