Friday, March 03, 2006

What is torture? What is not torture?

Untitled-7 copy
Originally uploaded by Sprol.
Would you consider it torture to be strapped to a chair -- legs, arms, & head -- and force fed, through a tube, laxatives and mush food... and left like that for hours on hours at end... left to shit in your own pants, only to have to endure the "feeding" again.

Apparently, that's not torture, 'cause that's what we do to prisoners who refuse to eat at Gitmo. And, we all know, we Americans don't do torture.

From the BBC news (although I heard a very similar story recently on NPR):
A Kuwaiti man being held at Guantanamo Bay has told the BBC in a rare interview that the force-feeding of hunger strikers amounts to torture.

Fawzi al-Odah said hunger strikers were strapped to a chair and force-fed through a tube three times a day.

A senior US official denied the use of torture in Guantanamo Bay.

Mr Odah's comments, relayed by his lawyer in answer to BBC questions, came as another inmate launched a legal challenge to the force-feeding policy.

The case is being brought on behalf of Mohammed Bawazir, a Yemeni who has also been held there since 2002.

The action is the first test for a new law explicitly outlawing torture of terrorism suspects, which President George W Bush signed in December.

The BBC Today programme's Jon Manel submitted questions for Mr Odah to his lawyer, Tom Wilner, who has access to the camp.

There was no opportunity for the BBC to challenge Mr Odah's responses.

Mr Odah, who has been held at the base since 2002, was one of 84 inmates at Guantanamo who went on hunger strike in December. Just four are still refusing food.

Speaking to the BBC, US state department official Colleen Graffey said all detainees were afforded regular status reviews and offered the opportunity to renounce violence.

Through his lawyer, Mr Odah described his treatment during his hunger strike.

"First they took my comfort items away from me. You know, my blanket, my towel, my long pants, then my shoes. I was put in isolation for 10 days.

"They came in and read out an order. It said if you refuse to eat, we will put you on the chair [for force feeding]."

He told how detainees were given "formulas" to force them to empty their bowels and were strapped to a metal chair three times a day, where a tube was inserted to administer food.

"One guy, a Saudi, told me that he had once been tortured in Saudi Arabia and that this metal chair treatment was worse than any torture he had ever endured or could imagine," Mr Odah said.
For the full story, and links to additional information, click here.

Question: If I did this to my 14-year old son, would law enforcement and the judicial system consider it torture? I'd sure as hell end up in jail.

We are, as a country, marching down the wrong path on this one...

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