The Medical Ethics of Force-Feeding Guantanamo Hunger Strikers

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

This week a large team of “medical reinforcements” including Navy nurses, corpsmen, and specialists, were deployed to Guantanamo Bay as a response to the ongoing inmate hunger strike.

With about 100 inmates refusing food in protest, the use of force-feeding tubes is now widespread, due to a military directive that aims to keep patients alive, regardless of if they want to be fed or not, or live or not.

In a press conference Tuesday morning, President Obama responded to the force-feeding, and reaffirmed his stance that Gitmo should close, saying, “I don't want these individuals to die. Obviously the pentagon is trying to manage the situation as best they can, but I think all of us should reflect on why exactly are we doing this. Why are we doing this?"

Carlos Warner is a federal public defender who represents 11 Guantanamo detainees, including Kuwaiti hunger striker Faiz al Kandari. He says that the lawyers representing the hunger strikers are divided on the force-feeding policy.


Carlos Warner

Produced by:

Cassie Jones and Jessica Miller

Comments [6]


Perhaps Obama should release them and then target them with drones. Problem solved and the media seems fine with Obama having a kill list.

May. 01 2013 04:03 PM
DLMC from Staten Island

How disingenuous of your guest. Insufficient evidence to convict and innocent are not the same.

May. 01 2013 04:01 PM
Nick Penkovsky from New York

As an attorney who has represented tenured teachers in the New York City Public School system, I share your guests frustration with government treatment of people against whom no charges have been filed. As with Guantanamo, these public school employees are held for years without even a hearing and are unable to return to work nor for that matter apply for or hold alternate employment while suspended from their teaching jobs because of conclicts of interest rules and the threat of negative references from the school system. Despite a federal lawsuit being filed demanding that hearings commence in conformity with teachers' rights under New York State statutory law and the due process clause of the United States Constitution, the courts dismissed the claims and sanctioned the attorneys for filing frivolous claims. You can see a photograph of one such place where teachers were held at: I suggest you compare the photograph at the link above with the photograph of Camp Delta and ask yourselves where have we gone as a contry as a people of decency and the rule of law.

May. 01 2013 03:50 PM
Steven Martinez

What a load of bull your speaker is presenting. I had to turn it off. The prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are 1. enemy combatants and 2. terrorists or in league with terrorists. The fact that they are being force fed is because the authorities do not want them to die.

Now you can debate the ethics of force-feeding. The Federal Bureau of Prisons and other state Department of Corrections has been force-feeding those who are on a hunger strike as a medical procedure for decades.

I think everyone would like to send these detainees back to their home, but since many of them are from Yemen that is the sticking point.

As a veteran of OEF/OIF, we need to remember why we went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place. These men are not the innocent victims that your guest claims them to be.

May. 01 2013 12:42 PM

Dear Gitmo Hunger Strikers,
Keep it up. Your campaign is working. You've got me talking about it in press conferences, agreeing with your complaints about "inhumanity" and thinking about new avenues for a possible closure of the facility. If you thought, "a hunger strike might knock the President of the United States on his heels, and get him to agree with us," you were right.
I'm going to try to find a way to placate you, because I cannot let any of you commit suicide on my watch.
Barack Obama
44th President of the United States

May. 01 2013 11:33 AM

Any special pleaders for those suspects dispatched
in drone strikes in recent years which is slightly more intense
then Gitmo?
A hunger strike is useless without publicity and it
seems some in the media are happy to provide it.

May. 01 2013 09:34 AM

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