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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/8/14

Guantanamo's Force-Feeding Challenged

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Cross-examining Dr. Miles turned out to be a futile exercise and the government lawyers soon stopped trying. I could almost hear sighs of relief as he left with his luggage. I found myself wishing he were able to stay longer; I had a premonition that the government lawyers might try to impugn his testimony in his absence. My fear was justified.

Safe Even for Little Children

I found it odd that, no sooner had Dr. Miles left, the government began to disparage his testimony. It just seemed that if the government was going to try to impeach his testimony, this should have been done while he was still around. One of the Reprieve lawyers objected but was overruled.

One of the issues that Dr. Miles addressed earlier was the diameter of the feeding tube, indicating that the 8 to 10 "French" size (3.3/3.6 millimeters in diameter) tube -- needed to make a 90-degree turn at the back of the throat -- was one of several reasons why frequent insertion could cause trauma and infection.

Shortly after Dr. Miles had left the courtroom, one of the young government lawyers asserted, "What Dr. Miles said [about the tubes] was false." The lawyer produced a chart from Brown University about using such tubes for small children. According to the chart, use of a size 8 or 10 "French" tube, which is what the government says is used with detainees is appropriate practice with small children.

Where is Dr. Miles, I thought, to respond to that? However, it seemed that he may have been alerted to the government's maneuver and returned. I looked to the other side of the courtroom and there he was.

He whispered to one of the Reprieve lawyers, apparently suggesting that Reprieve should request a couple of minutes for rebuttal, since that would be all it would take for him to show the disingenuous nature of the evidence government lawyers were pushing.

It was late in the afternoon and we had been going non-stop for two hours. Judge Kessler was reluctant to allow Dr. Miles back on the stand but finally granted him "five minutes." In his characteristically understated way, he exposed the government's chicanery.

The Brown University chart had nothing to do with feeding -- nothing to do with putting anything into a child. It had to do with a surgical procedure with several applications related to inserting a tube for suctioning stomach contents out of the body of a child. And, for that, a wider diameter or bore was more efficient.

Ouch was the expression at the table of government lawyers. "Does the government wish to cross-examine?" asked Judge Kessler. "No cross-examination," was the reply.

Shame, thought I; are these gentlemen in the black suits consciously reflecting Dick Cheney's "dark side" to sow confusion in the court? Are they getting paid by my taxes?

Asymmetrical Warfare?

Plus ca change: The government attorneys' repeated insistence on Tuesday that Dhiab was being fed only to save his life brought a flashback to eight years ago when two dozen Guantanamo detainees tried to starve themselves to death. They were strapped onto gurneys and plastic tubes were forced through their noses to force-feed enough nourishment to keep them alive, lest the Bush administration be embarrassed by their deaths.

But on June 10, 2006, three detainees committed gross insubordination by hanging themselves, the first successful suicides after 41 attempts by some 25 individual detainees.

The three who killed themselves incurred the wrath of then Guantanamo commander, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., who announced that the suicides were "not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare against us." In a similar spirit, Colleen Graffy, deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy, told the BBC that the suicides "certainly (are) a good PR move to draw attention."

How nice that Obama's lawyers are backstopping those in Guantanamo who take such care to prevent any blot on our country's Guantanamo detention regime that could result from a prisoner escaping in so insubordinate a way. Grotesque is the word that kept springing to my mind, as I watched the government lawyers in action Monday and Tuesday. Testimony is expected to be completed on Wednesday.

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
 
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