I have a word of advice I would like to offer Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon chieftains who currently preside over the 200 or more hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay, 20 of whom are near death.
For God’s sake, let them die.
What more could you possibly want from them?
They’ve already provided you with the subjects you needed for your newly perfected sense-deprivation techniques and your sadistic methods of torture. They supplied you with the lab rats for your new drugs, your improved methods of psychological torment, and your sexually deviant abuses. Now, let them die. The experiment is over. Show that there is some speck of humanity left in your withered heart by allowing these men to pass away with dignity, the dignity you deprived them of in life.
The hunger strike has been going on for six weeks. That means that a considerable number of the prisoners are undergoing the latter phases of physical deterioration. Many are probably vomiting blood by now and too weak to either walk or stand on their own. Their liver and kidney functions have begun to fail and their vision has begun to weaken, putting additional pressure on the heart to continue working while the body is slowly devouring itself.
Let them die.
If the Pentagon allowed the media to visit Guantanamo, they would see the emaciated, skeletal victims of Bush’s war on terror, the proof that America now oversees Nazi-like death camps. But, the media has shown little interest in the suffering of the prisoners even though it is widely acknowledged that many were randomly rounded up by warlords in Afghanistan and ransomed to the Americans.
So far, only one newspaper in the country, The Minnesota Daily, has spoken out on behalf of the prisoners on their editorial page. The newspaper stated:
“While morality and ethics are abstract ideas, justice is more concrete, hence why there are laws. Guantanamo and the actions that have been taken by our government against the detainees violate the Geneva Convention, the Bill of Rights, and our Constitution. Justice is not merely a conditional idea.”
The Minnesota Daily is the solitary voice in the media wilderness defending the essential rights of these casualties in Bush’s war, but with little effect. Washington’s justice has nothing to do with mercy or rehabilitation, but with punishment alone.
There won’t be any cameras or journalists at Guantanamo. The face that America sees is the tan-and-rested visage of President Fraudster offering his soothing commentary on another part of the globe destroyed by his recklessness. The pictures of Bush’s dungeons are left on the cutting room floor with the other unflattering footage of American brutality. That certainly won’t change now.
The prisoners follow in the long tradition of hunger strikers from Gandhi to Bobby Sands. Their demands are simple. They want the ability to challenge the terms of their imprisonment in court.
That’s it; the most basic of all human rights, to be informed of the crime for which they are being held and the opportunity to defend themselves against those charges. It’s a right that they are entitled to under international law, but have been denied by Washington.
The Pentagon has done nothing to address the inmates’ demands and steadfastly refuses to meet with their leaders. Instead, they have taken the low road by handcuffing and putting leg irons on the sickest and force feeding them intravenously or through nose drips.
Let them die.
The United States has established itself well beyond the rule of law, a rogue state that refuses to comply with even the minimal standards of decency required under the Geneva Conventions. Guantanamo Bay is the administration’s ultimate achievement: a torture-gulag devoted to the cruel and inhuman treatment of its enemies, an icon to lawlessness and savagery.
The administration now asserts its power over death itself, a final means of humiliating its victims and perpetuating their suffering. Rumsfeld’s feeding tubes are the last slim thread that tethers these men to a lifetime of detention, abuse, and hopelessness.
Let them die or let them go.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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