Marjorie Cohn: Death is Preferable to Life at Obamas Guantanamo!
More than 100 of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo are starving themselves to death. Twenty three of them are being force fed. They strap you to a chair, tie up your wrists, your legs, your forehead and tightly around the waist, Fayiz Al Kandari told his lawyer, Lt. Col. Barry Wingard. Al Kandari, a Kuwaiti held at Guantanamo for 11 years, has never been charged with a crime. The tube maked his eyes water excessively and blood begins to trickle from the nose. Once the tube passes his throat, the gag reflex kicks in. Warm liquid is poured into his body for 45 minutes to two hours. He feels as though his body is going to convulse and often vomits, Wingard added. the United Nations Human Rights Council concluded that force feeding amounts to torture. The American Medical Association says that force feeding violates medical ethics. Every competent patient has the right to refuse medical intervention, including life sustaining interventions, AMA President Jeremy Lazarus wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Yet President Barack Obama continues the tortuous Bush policy of force feeding hunger strikers. Although a few days after his first inauguration, Obama promised to shutter Guantanamo, it remains open. I continue to believe that we have got to close Guantanamo, Obama declared in his April 30 press conference. But, he added, Congress determined that they would not let us close it. Obama signed a bill that Congress passed, which erected barriers to closure. According to a Los Angeles Times editorial, Obama has refused to expend political capital on closing Guantanamo. Rather than veto the defense authorization bills that have limited his ability to transfer inmates, he has signed them while raising questions about whether they intruded on his constitutional authority. I don't want these individuals to die, Obama told reporters. In fact, Obama has the power to save the hunger strikers lives without torturing them. Section 1028 (d) of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, empowers the Secretary of Defense to approve transfers of detainees, when it is in the national security interest of the United States. Fifty six of the 86 cleared detainees are from Yemen. Yet Obama imposed a ban on releasing any of them, following the foiled 2009 Christmas bomb plot by a Nigerian man who was recruited in Yemen. Obama must begin signing these certifications and waivers at once.