How will Obama make good on commitment to close Guantanamo?

President Barack Obama renewed on Tuesday his commitment to closing the controversial detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where around 100 detainees are now participating in a hunger strike, protesting the conditions and their indefinite captivity.

Detainees are refusing food and even water, some of them since Feb. 10 following a search and confiscation of some of their belongings, where some allege that the facility staff mistreated Korans.

The government has responded by force-feeding the nutritional supplement “Ensure” to many of the detainees through tubes inserted through their noses. Forty more medical personnel have been sent to assist with the effort but some medical ethicists are crying foul, saying that it violates medical practice to force feed adults who are deemed mentally competent to make such decisions.

Dr. Jeremy A. Lazarus of the American Medical Association said last week that “Every competent patient has the right to refuse medical intervention, including life-sustaining interventions.”

The President and the Pentagon also confirmed that they will continue the force feeding procedures to ensure that no deaths occur.

But all this highlights an even larger problem. Although started under the Bush administration to house individuals captured abroad who were allegedly enemy combatants, 86 of those detained are no longer considered threats and have been cleared for release to Yemen, but have had their release put on conditional hold.

Host Carmen Russell-Sluchansky spoke with Carlos Warner, an attorney with the Federal Public Defender of the Northern District of Ohio who represents 11 Guantánamo detainees, and David Schanzer, an associate professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy and director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill, to discuss the story.

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He also spoke with Laura Pitter, of Human Rights Watch, to discuss more.

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About Carmen Munir Russell-Sluchansky 360 Articles
Carmen is a multimedia journalist based in Washington, DC whose work has appeared in a variety of outlets including National Geographic, NBC News, the BBC, Asia! Magazine, The China Post, Chicago Tribune and Orlando Sentinel.