FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Shoving Freedom Down Our Throats

Here’s one story: September 11, 2001, terrorists from al-Qaeda who hated the American way of life hijacked four passenger airlines and drove them into buildings in a coordinated attack against America and all it stands for. In response, America launches a war against these terrorists as a way to protect our homeland.

Here is another story, less often told: Following decades of US terror campaigns in the Middle East – campaigns that led to the decaying of infrastructure, health care, education, and the economy in multiple countries abroad – terrorists groups, many who had been armed and trained by the United States CIA, turned against the US. On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden (who had been trained by the CIA to fight the Soviets) carried out a coordinated attack against the United States. Since that time, the United States has doubled its efforts to intervene in the Middle East, reigning terror on Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and now Syria, as well as in parts of Africa – Libya, Somalia, and Djibouti, for starters.

Here’s a parallel story, given even less attention (credit to Reprieve UK): Abu Wa’el Dhiab was born in Lebanon but lived in Syria with his family from an early age. In 2000, he got married, started a family, and began running a successful business in Afghanistan. After the September 11th attacks, Mr. Dhiab and his family were forced to flee Kabul, as the city was no longer safe for them. Just months after fleeing, he was arrested by Pakistani police. While he was charged with no crime, he was turned over to the United States (likely for a large bounty). From there, he was flown to Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan in June of 2002 and shortly thereafter to Guantanamo Bay. To this day – having been charged with no crime, having had no trial – Mr. Dhiab remains in Guantanamo Prison. Detained Indefinitely. Tortured. Deprived of his family for over a decade. Unable to provide for his wife and children. Unable to watch his children grow up. Unable to hold his wife. Unable to be heard. What’s more, Mr. Dhiab has been cleared for release since 2009 – five years ago.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment as you imagine what your life would be like if you’d missed out on the last 12 years – the monotony of solitary confinement broken up only by interrogations and torture.

Now imagine that you can’t even protest your 12 year detention. Mr. Dhiab has taken part in hunger strikes at Guantanamo for seven years of his detention, part of the mass hunger strikes that have rippled through the prison since 2005. During the peak of the strikes in 2013, an estimated 166 detainees were on hunger strike. In response, the US military began force-feeding the strikers. Now, Mr. Dhiab is challenging the force feedings, calling it a method of punishment, not a medical procedure as the government claims. This is the parallel story that is the horrific and terrible truth for over 140 detainees currently being held at Guantanamo, not to mention the countless other victims of US imperialism being held in black site secret prisons around the globe.

The International Red Cross, the World Medical Association, and the United Nations all recognize the right of prisoners to engage in a hunger strike as a means of protest. Force-feeding has been labeled as cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and violates international law. The World Medical Association has stated that it is unethical for a doctor to participate in the force-feeding of a prisoner. And yet – the United States government continues to force-feed these men with impunity. What’s more, the methods used are brutal:

Shackled into a special chair (dubbed by prisoners as the “torture chair”) and tightly restrained, with a mask placed over the mouth, the feeding tube – measuring 3.3/4mm external diameter is pushed painfully down the nose and into the victim’s stomach. Once ready, the feeding can last for 30 minutes to up to two hours as large quantities of nutritional supplement are injected rapidly into the body, causing pain in the abdomen, nausea, and vomiting. Some of the men were even fed constipation drugs, causing them to shit themselves during the force-feeding. One prisoner, Imad Abdullah Hassan, a Yemeni who has also been cleared for transfer yet remains at Guantanamo (now for over 12 years), described this:

“People with hemorrhoids would leave blood on the chair and the linens would not always be changed before the next feeding.”

Afterward, the tube is quickly ripped out, often causing trauma to the nasal passages, and the prisoner is watched for at least 45 minutes, to ensure that they do not vomit or try to induce vomiting. If they do, the procedure is done again. The prisoners are also given Reglan, most likely without the prisoner’s consent. Reglan is an anti-nausea drug, which if administered for long periods of time, is known to cause an irreversible neurological disorder called tardive dyskinesia, which causes twitching and uncontrollable movements. Some prisoners have been force-fed thousands of times over a period of years.

During Mr. Dhiab’s court case, Steven Miles, a doctor and medical ethics professor at the University of Minnesota, told the court that olive oil had been used as a lubricant for the feeding tubes. He called this method “astonishing” since this is known to cause chronic inflammatory pneumonia. Interesting, since the government claim as to why they were force-feeding the prisoners was in order to keep them alive and safe, a difficult thing to do when you’re administering drugs known to cause irreversible neurological disorders and using methods known to cause pneumonia. Of course, the entire premise is flawed, since looking out for someone’s safety must certainly include not locking them up in a prison indefinitely, without evidence presented against them, without trial, and without a means of even challenging this practice, all the while subjecting them to torture day in and day out.

So here we have it: The United States has been waging illegal wars of terror around the globe for decades – following a pattern of arming rebel groups and later fighting against them. Sometimes on suspicion of terrorist ties, sometimes on no information at all, the US government pays thug-leaders in nations like Pakistan to hand over people who are then flown to secret detention centers around the globe, some ending at Guantanamo Prison. These men – held indefinitely, many for over a decade – are never charged with crimes, nor are they given a day in court. Many of these men the United States admits are no threat to our national security and have no ties to terrorist organizations. Despite that, they are tortured time and again. If they try to raise their heads – try to use what little autonomy they have in these US concentration camps – by protesting the very nourishment that keeps them alive, they are tortured still more – forcibly fed and silenced. This is what the United States is – the greatest purveyor of violence and suppression around the globe and at any point in history. God Bless America.

Alyssa Rohricht maintains The Black Cat Revolution and can be reached at aprohricht@msn.com.

More articles by:

Alyssa Röhricht maintains The Black Cat Revolution and can be reached at aprohricht@msn.com.

July 09, 2020
Richard D. Wolff
COVID-19 Exposes the Weakness of a Major Theory Used to Justify Capitalism
Ahrar Ahmad
Racism in America: Police Choke-Holds Are Not the Issue
Timothy M. Gill
Electoral Interventions: a Suspiciously Naïve View of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War World
Daniel Falcone
Cold War with China and the Thucydides Trap: a Conversation with Richard Falk
Daniel Beaumont
Shrink-Wrapped: Plastic Pollution and the Greatest Economic System Jesus Ever Devised
Prabir Purkayastha
The World Can Show How Pharma Monopolies Aren’t the Only Way to Fight COVID-19
Gary Leupp
“Pinning Down Putin” Biden, the Democrats and the Next War
Howard Lisnoff
The Long Goodbye to Organized Religion
Cesar Chelala
The Dangers of Persecuting Doctors
Mike Garrity – Erik Molvar
Back on the List: A Big Win for Yellowtone Grizzlies and the Endangered Species Act, a Big Loss for Trump and Its Enemies
Purusottam Thakur
With Rhyme and Reasons: Rap Songs for COVID Migrants
Binoy Kampmark
Spiked Concerns: The Melbourne Coronavirus Lockdown
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela is on a Path to Make Colonialism Obsolete
George Ochenski
Where are Our Political Leaders When We Really Need Them?
Dean Baker
Is it Impossible to Envision a World Without Patent Monopolies?
William A. Cohn
Lead the Way: a Call to Youth
July 08, 2020
Laura Carlsen
Lopez Obrador’s Visit to Trump is a Betrayal of the U.S. and Mexican People
Melvin Goodman
Afghanistan: What is to be Done?
Thomas Klikauer – Norman Simms
The End of the American Newspaper
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Merits of Medicare for All Have Been Proven by This Pandemic
David Rosen
It’s Now Ghislaine Maxwell’s Turn
Nicolas J S Davies
Key U.S. Ally Indicted for Organ Trade Murder Scheme
Bob Lord
Welcome to Hectobillionaire Land
Laura Flanders
The Great American Lie
John Kendall Hawkins
Van Gogh’s Literary Influences
Marc Norton
Reopening vs. Lockdown is a False Dichotomy
Joel Schlosberg
“All the Credit He Gave Us:” Time to Drop Hamilton’s Economics
CounterPunch News Service
Tribes Defeat Trump Administration and NRA in 9th Circuit on Sacred Grizzly Bear Appeal
John Feffer
The US is Now the Global Public Health Emergency
Nick Licata
Three Books on the 2020 Presidential Election and Their Relevance to the Black Live Matter Protests
Elliot Sperber
The Breonna Taylor Bridge
July 07, 2020
Richard Eskow
The War on Logic: Contradictions and Absurdities in the House’s Military Spending Bill
Daniel Beaumont
Gimme Shelter: the Brief And Strange History of CHOP (AKA CHAZ)
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s War
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Racism May be Blatant, But the Culture He Defends Comes Out of the Civil War and Goes Well Beyond Racial Division
Andrew Stewart
Can We Compare the George Floyd Protests to the Vietnam War Protests? Maybe, But the Analogy is Imperfect
Walden Bello
The Racist Underpinnings of the American Way of War
Nyla Ali Khan
Fallacious Arguments Employed to Justify the Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s Autonomy and Its Bifurcation
Don Fitz
A Statue of Hatuey
Dean Baker
Unemployment Benefits Should Depend on the Pandemic
Ramzy Baroud – Romana Rubeo
Will the ICC Investigation Bring Justice for Palestine?
Sam Pizzigati
Social Distancing for Mega-Million Fun and Profit
Dave Lindorff
Private: Why the High Dudgeon over Alleged Russian Bounties for Taliban Slaying of US Troops
George Wuerthner
Of Fire and Fish
Binoy Kampmark
Killing Koalas: the Promise of Extinction Down Under
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail