Pressure mounts on Obama to stop Guantanamo force-feeding
July 9th, 2013
05:18 PM ET

Pressure mounts on Obama to stop Guantanamo force-feeding

By Larry Shaughnessy

Two senior Democratic senators demanded on Tuesday that the United States stop force-feeding certain detainees at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility, a public stand that added to a rising chorus of protest over their treatment.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, who chairs the Intelligence Committee, and Richard Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip, registered their strong opposition to the practice during the confirmation hearing of James Comey to become the next FBI director.

"This is inhumane," Feinstein said, noting that she wrote Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about the matter but hadn't heard back.

U.S. rejects call to stop force-feeding at Guantanamo

Feinstein traveled to Guantanamo in June with Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, where she said she "took a look" at the force feeding issue.

"I'm very concerned about it because it's the wrong thing to do," she said.

"Detainees are restrained in a chair by body, by foot, by hand, and twice a day a tube is inserted, perhaps covered with olive oil, up the nose and down into the stomach. And the individual is force fed. This goes on week after week and month after month," Feinstein said.

Gitmo hunger striker: 'What more can they do to me?'

Durbin said that he agreed with Feinstein and promised action.

"We're going to join together, and perhaps others wish to join us in a letter to the president asking him to exercise his executive authority to end this force feeding in Guantanamo," he said.

There are 166 prisoners at Guantanamo, which was established to house terror suspects following the 2001 al Qaeda attacks on the United States and the start of the Afghan war, and 106 have been on hunger strikes since early this year. More than 40 have been force-fed, military officials said.

On Monday, a federal judge in Washington rejected a bid by detainees to end force-feeding during the holy month of Ramadan, saying the court lacked jurisdiction.

But U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler urged President Barack Obama to do something about it, calling it a "painful, humiliating, and degrading process."

The government has said force-feeding provides "essential nutrition and medical care."

When asked about Kessler's comments, White House spokesman Jay Carney told CNN's Jessica Yellin that he would defer to the Defense Department and Justice Department.

But Carney said the president continues to believe the facility should be closed.

Separately, rapper Yasiin Bey, better known to many as Mos Def, has said he voluntarily attempted the standard procedure for force-feeding Guantanamo detainees.

The aborted procedure was captured in a four-and-a-half-minute video commissioned by human rights organization Reprieve, with the intent of raising awareness and support for detainees.

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Filed under: Gitmo
soundoff (38 Responses)
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  2. Herschel Thornley

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  3. In home personal training

    This angers me. They show no compassion for us and our way of life, but if we let them die we get look horrible and if we force feed them we are looked at horribly. We can't win! were dam if we do and damned if we don't.

    April 21, 2014 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  4. In home personal training

    I found it crazy that they are so committed to not eating and dying that they would starve themselves. It goes to show you that there was no hope in thee communities that raised them. Closing this place is not going to stop the problem whereever you put them they will act the same way.

    April 2, 2014 at 8:07 am | Reply
  5. vnp1210

    As a physician, feeding via NGT has many advantages. However, it also has many disadvantages and poses many ethical problems not just for regular citizens but especially in this situation. I have written about it here:

    July 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  6. Barry The Liar

    Terrorist inmates will be moved to Ramey AFB in Puerto Rico as soon as this fall, according to sources. Inspectors and engineers on site this week in Puerto Rico's former US Airforce Base RAMEY.

    July 12, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Reply
  7. HJC

    "Please join me in banning force feeding using high capacity assault weapon feeding tubes."
    – Dianne Fraudstein

    July 12, 2013 at 5:05 am | Reply
  8. Noel

    If the government wants to spend $3.5M per year on me, I'll be happy to live in Gitmo. Especially if it gets me out of paying taxes, healthcare, gym membership, utilities, gasoline,and food. I won't cause any trouble at all.

    July 11, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Reply
  9. Morris

    They chose this life. Let them live with a tube up their nose for the rest of their wretched lives. Well deserved and appropriate treatment.

    July 10, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Reply
    • Richard

      On the Dandy Goat website there is a story about what Mos Def said he's going to do next - it's a lot more shocking than agreeing to be force-fed.

      July 11, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  10. Silverado

    They want to served pork. Or else, they wouldn't eat a thing.

    July 10, 2013 at 11:06 pm | Reply
  11. California

    IRS releases 100,000 social security numbers. Obamacare was screwed already. Now it's the biggest joke of the past 100 years.


    July 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Reply
  12. California

    Wasn't this part of Obamacare?

    July 10, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Reply
  13. Todd

    LET THEM DIE, it's their choice, they are just making a statement, so let them make it

    July 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  14. Gerald

    Torture them as much as you want U.S of A as torture still shows mercy which they never shown to the people they killed in cold blood.

    July 10, 2013 at 5:47 am | Reply
    • George patton

      What about those two American pilots Gerald, who mercilessly bombed the Amriya air raid shelter in Baghdad, Iraq on Feb. 13, 1991, slaughtering more than 414 civilians consisting of women, children and the elderly with a new "bunker busting" bomb? I well remember the man on the news who lost his entire family, mourning his horrific loss the following day. Did anyone here feel sorry for him? I guess not and that is appalling to say the least!!!

      July 10, 2013 at 8:48 am | Reply
      • Pete

        @George Patton, did you feel sorry when those two towers in the World Trade Centers came down killing over 3000 innocent Americans on 9/11 who were there just to make a living,they weren't in a war zone were they.Or how under Reagans watch over 300 military were bombed by terrorists in a military barricks,forget that, these military families who lost loved ones won't either!!If you want more compatibles I'll be happy to shove them to you!!Hey how bout the soldiers who died fighting for something they knew nothing about in Bushs lies in Iraq,Afghanistan over 4500 and counting right,stop the nonsense because its irrelevant what you're preaching about as I just showed you!!

        July 12, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Todd

      Let them starve to death, simple

      July 10, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  15. Michael Benjamin

    The government is operating under a budget sequestor – stop feeding them.

    July 10, 2013 at 12:19 am | Reply
  16. Brain

    Bullets are cheap...

    July 9, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Reply
    • USMC1371

      Rope can be used till it breaks

      July 10, 2013 at 1:30 am | Reply
  17. sam kirk

    They are killers! Let them die.

    July 9, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Reply
  18. George Patton

    First time I am against Obama's for his force feeding policy; stop feeding the rats.

    July 9, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Reply
    • George patton

      I agree, Phunnie boy. Stop force feeding feeding these unfortunates and turn them loose to return home. Does anyone here realize just how much torture they had to undergo by their tormentors? We need to arrest them and take them to the I.C.C. to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity!!!

      July 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Reply
      • USMC1371

        How do you know what they have gone threw? Treat a animal like a animal.

        July 9, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
      • USMC1371

        Oh and nothing was said about letting them go just stopping the force feedings. In a week they will have all committed suicide.

        July 10, 2013 at 1:32 am |
      • ALHN

        To USMC, first of all they are humans and we shouldn't stoop to their level by torturing them and giving them more fodder for propaganda. Secondly you say "treat an animal like an animal", implying prisoners should be tortured, but we have strict laws against animal there's no logic in that, really. If your child was pulling a dogs ears and got bit, you wouldn't torture the dog, even though it had done something (albiet instinctive) hurtful.

        July 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
      • USMC1371

        No I would make sure he learned his lesson "treat a animal like a animal or get bit".

        July 11, 2013 at 7:08 am |
  19. USMC1371

    let them commit suicide. ....who cares?

    July 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Reply
    • M1k3y

      Because these are the "suspects" that they decided had nothing to do with 9/11, have commited no crimes, and have no charges against them?

      They were going to be released years ago but then they decided not to.

      July 9, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Reply
      • USMC1371

        You mean they are pow's and their home country doesn't want them back? Their is a reason they are in gitmo and it's not because they are so nice.

        July 9, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
      • BIG SHIZ

        The problem is a lot of them are political opponents of the government's they come from and not terrorists. A lot of them are terrorists but there's a good number of them that are innocent. If you don't give people fare trials innocent people will be victimized.

        July 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
      • Pete

        @M1k3y,most of these supposid terrorists are paid mercenaries that have no allience to any country and remember it wasn't Pres.Obama that didn't want Gitmo shut down it was those republicans in congress who did!!

        July 12, 2013 at 9:36 am |
      • Pete

        @M1k3y,typo,it was my mistake in Pres.Obama wanting Gitmo closed and congress fought against it,my bad sorry!!

        July 12, 2013 at 9:40 am |

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