Earlier this week an 11-member task force, assembled by the Constitution Project think tank, issued a 577-page report, which concluded that the highest U.S. officials bore ultimate responsibility for the “indisputable” use of torture and it urged the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by the end of 2014. The task force concluded that there never has been “the kind of considered and detailed discussion that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisors on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.”
The task force deemed indefinite detention “abhorrent” and “intolerable.”
A clash between guards and prisoners at Gitmo a few days ago and the release of harrowing accounts by inmates about force-feeding has thrown a harsh spotlight on the predicament of the inmates, being held without trial for more than a decade. Military officials say there are 43 prisoners currently on a hunger strike, or just under 25 percent of the 166 prisoners still being held.
One of those on a hunger strike is Samir Naji al Hasan Mogbel. Samir was captured in Yemen and has been in Gitmo for 11 years and three months. In an unclassified call to his lawyers, Samir said that if he refuses to be forced into a chair and be tied up, an E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force) team — usually consisting of eight military police — is summoned to beat him up. The alternative is to submit to “painful force-feeding.” He told his lawyers that during one force-feeding, a tube was pushed 18 inches into his stomach, causing extreme pain; also, after one insertion of an IV, he was left in that state for 26 hours.
Samir claims that there is so much necerssary force-feeding that the staff can hardly keep up. He once was fed at 11 p.m., after he had fallen asleep.
Samir puts his weight at 132 pounds, having lost 30 pounds since he went on the hunger strike. He told his lawyers of two other hunger strikers, one weighing 77 pounds and the other 98 pounds.
Both the Constitution Project task force and the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross have termed force-feeding a “form of abuse.”