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Is a forced-feeding tube through your nose "torture"?

By       Message Gene Messick     Permalink

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Is forcing a tube down someone's nose twice a day considered acceptable? Legal? Cruel and unusual punishment? Or just another form of acceptable torture? 

"The forced-feeding regime has guards and medical staff strap a captive into a chair, Velcro his head to a metal restraint, then tether a tube into the man's stomach through his nose to pump in liquid nourishment twice a day." -- Miami Herald, Thursday, 08 January 2009.

A link to the entire story is here.  It's also on OpEdNews here.

With the Bush Administration having re-defined for themselves what they consider to be "torture" under International Law, how will President-elect Obama choose what is torture, and what is not, after Inauguration on January 20th?
Does Obama have a grace period to make up his mind? If this is torture, and he does not use his power as Commander-in-Chief of our Military to stop it, is he guilty of torture under International Law after one day? A month? His first hundred days?
This is a hydra-headed legal question. Will Obama's new Attorney General tackle this first? Or will this become another snare like what entrapped GwB's legal advisors, and put them at risk of being tried by any or many Nations around the world?
Nations who subscribe to International anti-torture definitions not only MAY bring charges of torture against American officials, they are OBLIGATED to do so under terms of International agreement.
On 1/7/09, there was an in depth discussion of torture and it's legacy on NPR's Fresh Air. Host Terry Gross interviewed British lawyer Philippe Sands, author of a 2008 book: Torture Team. Listen to the interview here.
This is only one of dozens of legal questions which were forced upon us by choices made by the Bush Administration, when a decision was made to engage in what were heretofore thought to be forbidden practices. It will take years to unravel this tangled web of deception surrounding torture, one of many legacies GwB leaves us.
So here's one more log to toss onto that bonfire: force-feeding. But the question goes beyond legalities, and into "What is humane?" Ghandi chose to refuse food as a statement of protest. Others have refused food as a means of civil disobedience.
What gives any right to force feed anyone to those in authority?  Many prisoners (or "detainees") who are incarcerated at Guantanamo have had no charges made against them since early 2002. At first denied any access to legal representation, what other ways do they have to protest what's being done to them?
In Rockingham County NC, all in one afternoon as the last case of the day in a near empty courtroom, I was stripped by a Judge of virtually everything I owned in NC, including all of my personal and business records and even my US Passport, including my garden in Eden. I have not been able to file my taxes for 2006. I was charged with nothing, not told what was going to happen to me, and denied access to a Lawyer. I only learned of my fate after everyone had left the courtroom, and a Deputy Sheriff came back to hand me some papers.

As I write this, that was 928 days ago, the day after Independence Day 2006. Not one single item has been returned, legally stolen by an anonymous Judge. Every Judge and every Lawyer in Rockingham County, including the Republican District Attorney, has been told about this, repeatedly, both by Email and by snail mail. Nothing has been done. This corrupt Judge still sits on the bench, and Lawyers continue to try cases before him, even though they know of his crime. Lawyers are "officers of the court." What responsibility does that carry to put an end to injustice? This is an on-going crime which shows no signs of ever being resolved.
I live in poverty and cannot afford a lawyer, exiled from my native State, subsisting on Social Security benefits. Without SS, I'd be living under a bridge, if at all. Would simply passing through NC put me at risk of arrest?
If arrested, would I go on a hunger strike to protest my unjust treatment? If so, would I be fed by having a tube forced through my nose into my stomach? The precedent has been set, and reinforced by treatment of uncharged "detainees" at Guantanamo.
Would it take a tube forced through your nose before you would pay attention to why torture should never, Never, NEVER be allowed?


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For 17 years Gene Messick studied and taught Design at NC State University and Cornell. Co-founding the Visual Design Program at NCSU, he established the Photography Program at Cornell, where he taught in the Architecture Department, most interested (more...)

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