THE HUNGER GAMES: Gitmo Prisoner Force-Feeding Standard Operating Procedural Leaked


AL JAZEERA: Hunger striking Guantanamo prisoners who are force-fed a liquid nutritional supplement undergo a brutal and dehumanizing medical procedure that requires them to wear masks over their mouths while they sit shackled in a restraint chair for as long as two hours. The prisoners remain this way, with a 61cm tube – or longer – snaked through their nostril until a chest X-Ray, or test dose of water, confirms it has reached their stomach. At the end of the feeding, the prisoner is removed from the restraint chair and placed into a “dry cell” with no running water. The guard force then observes “the detainee for 45-60 minutes for any indications of vomiting or attempts to induce vomiting.” If the prisoner vomits he is returned to the restraint chair. That’s just a partial description of the “chair restraint system clinical protocol” medical personnel are instructed to follow when administering a nutritional supplement to prisoners who have been selected for force-feeding by Guantanamo Commander Rear Admiral John Smith. The restraint system, published here for the first time, along with the feeding procedures policy, was contained in a newly revised Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Guantanamo hunger strikers obtained exclusively by Al Jazeera from United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which has oversight of the joint task force that operates the prison. The 30-page SOP contains the most detailed descriptions to date pertaining to the treatment of hunger strikers and prisoners who undergo force-feedings. The SOP replaced a previous SOP issued in 2003 (revised in 2005) which was declassified several years ago by the Pentagon with redactions. The new, unredacted policy obtained by Al Jazeera went into effect March 5 – one month after Guantanamo prisoners launched their protest over the inspection of their Qurans. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: As of [April 30th] morning, 100 of the 166 prisoners at Guantánamo were officially deemed by the military to be participating in the hunger strike, with 21 “approved” to be fed the nutritional supplement Ensure through tubes inserted through their noses. “We will not allow a detainee to starve themselves to death, and we will continue to treat each person humanely,” said Lt. Col. Samuel House, the prison spokesman. The military’s response to the hunger strike has revived complaints by medical ethics groups that contend that doctors — and nurses under their direction — should not force-feed prisoners who are mentally competent to decide not to eat. Last week, the president of the American Medical Association, Dr. Jeremy A. Lazarus, wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel saying that any doctor who participated in forcing a prisoner to eat against his will was violating “core ethical values of the medical profession.” “Every competent patient has the right to refuse medical intervention, including life-sustaining interventions,” Dr. Lazarus wrote. He also noted that the A.M.A. endorses the World Medical Association’s Tokyo Declaration, a 1975 statement forbidding doctors to use their medical knowledge to facilitate torture. It says that if a prisoner makes “an unimpaired and rational judgment” to refuse nourishment, “he or she shall not be fed artificially.” MORE

RELATED: “The notion that we’re going to continue to keep over 100 individuals in a no-man’s land in perpetuity — even at a time when we’ve wound down the war in Iraq, we’re winding down the war in Afghanistan, we’re having success defeating al Qaeda, we’ve kept the pressure up on all these transnational terrorist networks, when we’ve transferred detention authority in Afghanistan — the idea that we would still maintain, forever, a group of individuals who have not been tried, that’s contrary to who we are, it’s contrary to our interests, and it needs to stop,” Obama said. “Now, it’s a hard case to make, because for a lot of Americans, the notion is out of sight, out of mind, and it’s easy to demagogue the issue,” Obama said. MORE