This weekend, U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay cleared communal cell blocks and placed many detainees in single, “maximum-security style” cells. According to Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, about 130 detainees lived in this community-style block until Saturday. Now, approximately 60 of them have been returned to single cells, and guards are back in control of the communal blocks.
Yesterday, the New York Times published an op-ed by Samir Naji al-Hasan Moqbel, a Guantanamo detainee who has been on hunger strike since February 10 and is currently being force-fed to keep him alive. As of today, 43 detainees are on hunger strike. The move to place detainees back in single cells makes it easier for guards to force feed the detainees.
Many of these detainees have been cleared for release.
Sunday’s account of al-Hasan Moqbel’s painful ordeal is probably the first many Americans have heard of the ongoing and escalating hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay. While it may be out of the minds of Americans, Gitmo often plays a prominent role in jihadist propaganda and continues to harm our national security.
Our infographic on Guantanamo Bay details the human and the fiscal costs of the facility. Last month, I explored some of the budgetary costs of continuing to run Guantanamo Bay.
Human rights groups have begun to question whether detainees should be allowed to starve themselves, but Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale of the Pentagon says that this would run “counter to our responsibilities under the laws of war” and “is anathema to our values as Americans.”
I believe Guantanamo Bay can be closed and that the detainees will be tried or simply released. Therefore, it is imperative that we keep these individuals alive in the most humane way possible. All efforts must be made to convince these detainees their hunger strike is unnecessary and their detention will not be indefinite. The best way to do this is to restart, in earnest, the search for locations to move these detainees.
Tomorrow at 2 P.M., I will take to Twitter to discuss Guantanamo Bay with Colonel Morris Davis, former Chief Prosecutor at Gitmo. You can follow me (@theresepostel), Colonel Davis (@ColMorrisDavis), and our moderator (@TCFdotorg) as we discuss the ongoing hunger strike at Gitmo, the future of the facility, and the ramifications of our decisions for our national security. Follow along at #Gitmochat at 2 p.m. EDT.