Today, the New York Times Editorial Board printed an op-ed entitled “The Guantanamo Stain.” Using the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential library as a backdrop, the Times makes the case that:
Just as hunger strikes at the infamous Maze Prison in Northern Ireland indelibly stained Britain’s human rights record, so Guantánamo stains America’s.”
Yesterday, Charlie Savage of the Times offered a comprehensive overview of the ongoing hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay. Currently, 97 of the 166 prisoners are refusing food, 19 are being force fed, and 5 are hospitalized. The numbers grow daily.
Carol Rosenburg of the Miami Herald offers the most consistent, commendable reporting on the deteriorating situation at Gitmo. An infographic by Rosenburg and Lazaro Gamio illustrates how the number of hunger strikers has grown rapidly since detainees were returned to solitary confinement on April 13. According to military officials, extra medical personnel will be sent to address the situation.
Detainees reportedly have grown despondent and resorted to starving themselves as a result of President Obama’s inability to close the prison. The severity of the situation has prompted Sen. Diane Feinstein (C-CA) to pen a letter to National Security Director Tom Donilon, calling on the Administration to review the status of the 86 detainees cleared for release and to restart the process of transferring them.
As the hunger strike gains more international attention, the importance of resolving this crisis becomes ever clearer. As I wrote for The Atlantic, Guantanamo Bay is often used as a propaganda tool for Al-Qaeda. As recently as April 15, the Taliban released a statement condemning the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and drawing attention to what appears to be the indefinite detention of men who have already been cleared for release.
Abigail Grimshaw and Hannah Barley of The Century Foundation created this infographic depicting both the moral and the financial costs of Guantanamo. For those unmoved by the human rights and the national security concerns that Gitmo imposes, here is an argument that we literally can’t afford Guantanamo Bay.