Force-Feeding Gitmo Detainees is Legal, Moral and Ethical

Recently, U.S. Federal District Court Judge, Gladys Kessler, found in favor of a motion filed by attorney’s for Gitmo detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab who asked that the intubation to keep him healthy and alive be stopped.

Why? The detainee’s attorney and liberal left, Islamist apologists say that force-feeding violates international law and “could amount to torture.” Although the judge stopped short of using the “T” word, she described force-feeding as “a painful, humiliating and degrading process.”

I was present when the very first two detainees at the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were force-fed back in early 2002.

Not only weren’t these self-starving unlawful combatants not eating, they were also not drinking anything. A person can go for several weeks without eating before killing themselves or causing irreparable organ damage, but if a person were to go without drinking for just a few days there would be no turning back once vital organs, such as the kidneys or liver, shut down.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 24:  Supporters of closing the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base detention facility hold signs and pictures of prisoners being held at the facility while sitting in the audience during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee July 24, 2013 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from a panel of witnesses on 'Closing Guantanamo: The National Security, Fiscal, and Human Rights Implications.' Credit: Getty Images

The military medical Standard Operating Procedures at Gitmo (which I helped write for the detainee mission) mentioned nothing about thirst strikes. We hadn’t thought about it. We only had protocols in place for a hunger strike. So when two hunger strikers were identified as having not had anything to drink for two days we performed an intervention, Gitmo style.

No, we didn’t waterboard them and say “suck it in!”

We appealed to their sense of religion first, if they had any. The detainees claimed to be Muslims, so we approached them with the Navy Muslim chaplain assigned to detainee operations, who spoke with the detainees through an interpreter about Allah’s instructions through the Quran that they should not willfully harm themselves.

The truth is most detainees were only pretending to be Muslims, their murderous and hateful values were acquired through Al Qaeda, the Taliban or other Islamists. In fact, the new official name for self-starvation at Gitmo is “Long Term Non-Religious Fasts.”

That failed to get the desired response, so we told them we would have to give them fluids intravenously. One detainee resisted to the point of physical refusal. We strapped him to a litter and then pushed fluids.

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - JUNE 27:  (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by the U.S. Military prior to transmission. ) A Public Affairs Officer escorts media through the currently closed Camp X-Ray which was the first detention facility to hold 'enemy combatants' at the U.S. Naval Station on June 27, 2013 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, houses the American detention center for 'enemy combatants'. President Barack Obama has recently spoken again about closing the prison which has been used to hold prisoners from the invasion of Afghanistan and the war on terror since early 2002. Credit: Getty Images

After several more days they were still not eating and refused to drink. We kept pushing the intravenous fluids, but it was becoming clear that we were going to have to intubate them and force nutrition into their stomachs before permanent organ damage, and then death occurred.

You see there are no military medical protocols that allow detainees to harm themselves, including self-starvation. The procedure for intubation, or forced feeding, is unpleasant, to be sure, but slowly dying because your body is feeding off of itself to the point of organ failure would probably be just a bit more uncomfortable, even torturous.

I pray you THINK about that for a moment. Is it absurd to tell someone to stop saving someone else’s life because it is potentially torturous to do so? We KNOW what happens to the body when it is not fed and nourished properly – it feeds on itself and then shuts down.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “So let the damn bastards starve themselves! It’ll save us taxpayers money and the bloodthirsty Islamists will get what they deserve – a painful and agonizing death! Remember Sept. 11! Remember Benghazi! Death to Akbar!”

A hooded demonstrator is seen at a protest calling for the closure of the Guntanamo Bay detention facility infront of the White House on May 18, 2013 in Washington, DC. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

We need to take a step back and then remember our values. We are the good guys. No matter what anyone else tells you, especially the left liberal, Islamist apologist uber-politically correct crowd who only want to manipulate American political will via self-starving unlawful combatant detainees, we have ethics and morals to uphold, even in the face of absurdity.

U.S. military personnel are trained to care for, and to treat with respect and dignity, any unlawful combatant that we detain, including those who wish to slowly and painfully off themselves. The majority of the U.S. military personnel working at Gitmo are professional, hard working, loyal and trustworthy individuals, who will never, ever disobey their orders to care for the detainees appropriately.

Because of this commitment to honor and integrity, International Committee of the Red Cross physicians with whom I worked at Gitmo and in Iraq told me, “Nobody does [detention operations] better than the United States.”

The Gitmo detainees are LUCKY to be ALIVE, as any or all of them could have been legally killed on the battlefield. They are even LUCKIER to have been captured by the U.S. rather than some other group with far less compassion and humanity (i.e. Al Qaeda, Taliban, or other Islamists); one that might, say, behead them, hack them to death, blow them up or drag them naked and lifeless through the streets, like they did to Daniel Pearl and Lee Rigby.

In this photo reviewed by US military officials, two feeding tubes and cans of Ensure are seen in the US Detention Center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, March 29, 2010. Detainees on hunger strikes or not eating are given enhanced nutrition via the tube. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

The irony drips, in thick globs, as our sworn enemy insists on being slowly and painfully allowed to die because the method being used to keep him alive is tantamount to TORTURE.

I wonder what George Orwell would say about this? I wonder what someone in a coma would say if they could, about being forcibly fed while medical science sorts out the cause of their coma? Did you know they also intubate premature infants? Ever hear that called torture?

Of course not! The act of self-starvation is a CONSCIOUS DECISION made for POLITICAL reasons by a desperate person, in this case an illegal combatant detainee.

Judge Kessler has ordered a temporary cease and desist to the forced feeding of Abu Wa’el Dhiab, and has forbidden his forced removal from his cell at Gitmo for that purpose.

I’d like to see her medical professional credentials, or her crystal ball, which she can guarantee no permanent or life-threatening damage will be done to the detainee during the time the restraint is in effect. The appellate court that sent the original appeal to end the force-feeding back to the District Court mentioned that the force-feeding procedure would “probably be allowed if it is just to prevent injury or death.”

People dress in orange jumpsuits and black hoods as activists demand the closing of the US military's detention facility in Guantanamo during a protest, part of the Nationwide for Guantanamo Day of Action, April 11, 2013 in New York's Times Square. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

It used to be that courts never interfered with military procedures, policies or laws. Gitmo has risen to a level of incalculable interference by the federal court system because President Barack Hussein Obama mentioned, bathed in both pre- and post-election naïveté, that he would CLOSE Gitmo within a year?

Could it be that he and U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder re-wrote the Military Commissions Act of 2006, to include rights and privileges for unlawful combatant detainees virtually identical to what you or I would enjoy in a U.S. Federal court of law?

Back to the intubation: We had the Navy Muslim chaplains and interpreter bedside with the two self-starving detainees before going ahead with the procedure, done in a private section of the detainee medical facility (an integrated and climate controlled tent system called Deployable Medical System), with low lighting and near whispering conversation.

The Muslim Navy chaplain, through the interpreter, tried to convince the detainees that their self-starvation was against Allah’s wishes, and that it would not be pleasant, and would they please reconsider.

They quietly and timidly refused, and then the Navy nurses, assisted by corpsmen, with a physician standing by, gently placed the feeding tubes through the detainee’s nostrils and then down their throats into their stomachs.

The detainees moaned slightly, winced some, and then opened their eyes wide when the nutritional liquid was slowly poured into them. So tell me, what exactly is inhumane, unethical or immoral about that?

I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter @mjgranger1

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