Gitmo Starvation and American Restraint:
So let's try to get our minds around this: Right now, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the United States is holding roughly 500 detainees, most of whom were not captured on the battlefield, most of whom were not associated with al-Qaeda, many (if not most) of whom weren't even Taliban.
Let's try to get our minds around this: Say you're one of the non-Taliban, non-al-Qaeda detainees, just reward meat around the wrong mountainside at the wrong time with the wrong warlord's men ridin' by, and now you're at Gitmo. Say you've been hooded, led around on a leash, been threatened with dogs, stripped nude, forced to stand for days, had fluids forced into you intravenously until you pissed yourself, denied sleep, made to act like the guards' bitch, endured loud music blared into the tiny cold cell where you curled up naked, on concrete, with air conditioning blasting, all the "humane" methods approved by the Pentagon, and then finally you've told your captors what they wanted to hear, that somehow you are, at the very least, associated with evil people, whatever lie will stop the pain and degradation. Then you realize the catch. By not confessing, you assured your continued humane torture. By confessing, though, you assure that you will never be let free, never tried, never allowed to see family or friends again. So you go on a hunger strike. Hell, your abused body's all you've got left to protest with.
Let's try to get our minds around the methods used to stop the Gitmo hunger strikers from dying: the U.S. military is using restraining chairs, the same kind that are used and abused in prisons around America. They render the seated person virtually helpless, preventing nearly every part of the prisoner's body from moving. Then, once seated, "in a humane and compassionate manner," the Gitmo hunger strikers have tubes shoved into their noses or mouths and they are force-fed, with mouths clamped shut to prevent vomiting. Some were fed so much that they shit themselves. Because, see, according to the government, "hunger striking is an al-Qaeda tactic used to elicit media attention and also to bring pressure on the U.S. government." For surely, if, as Pentagon documents supposedly show, only about 8 percent of the detainees were al-Qaeda when captured, more are now.
Let's try to get our minds around the desperation behind the mindset of the government that won't free innocent people, that won't admit error: if a prisoner dies because of a hunger strike, and we actually learn of it, the focus on the "treatment" of detainees will become sharper. And if a fuckin' cartoon can incite riots, what would a man dead in U.S. custody from a hunger strike do? Ask Northern Ireland.
Let's try to get our minds around what it takes to starve oneself: You ever fasted for a full day? The pain, the ache in head and body, grows quickly. Over days and weeks, the body, which tries to stay alive, feeds on itself even as the lack of nutrition causes organs to break down. Because, for instance, the gastrointestinal system slows, gastric acid builds, yielding killer reflux and dry heaves. If you're not in a coma or a persistent vegetative state, you get to the point where you want to be. If it's a "tactic," it's pretty damn hardcore.
Let's try to get our minds around one last thing: except for a small portion of America, like those of us in the fields of Left Blogsylvania, no one fuckin' cares that innocent people, captured, tortured, tortured again when they try to protest are in U.S. custody. It's easier to just believe the Gitmo detainees are, as the administration tells us repeatedly, terrible, awful, murderous people. 'Cause not to believe that means you have to confront what's being done in your name. Or suppress it in that Great American Storehouse of Repressed Memory, hoping it never creeps out to consciousness.