Nobody Wears Dress Blues at Gitmo Bay

by James Glaser
February 10, 2006

The Pentagon is afraid of bad publicity, and so strong measures had to be taken to quell a hunger strike that was going on at their prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The American military is now force-feeding the prisoners on strike who are protesting their confinement. This is very much like the hunger strike the Irish Republican Army employed in British prisons that made Bobby Sands an international figure for dying after 66 days without food.

Washington does not need any Muslim martyrs, as international criticism of this American detention center has been gaining support all over the globe.

Tim Golden, of the New York Times writes, "In recent weeks, the officials said, guards have begun strapping recalcitrant detainees into "restraint chairs," sometimes for hours a day, to feed them through tubes and prevent them from deliberately vomiting afterward. Detainees who refuse to eat have also been placed in isolation for periods in what the officials said was an effort to keep them from being encouraged by other hunger strikers."

Most of the prisoners at Guantanamo are from Afghanistan, and have been there for over three years with no idea of how much longer they will be held. You might say they are in a legal limbo, living a life of constant physical and mental torture. Many had to endure living in wire cages open to the elements for years, until better facilities were constructed.

I could go on with paragraph after paragraph about how horrible the conditions are for these prisoners, and then I could go on with more about why the Bush administration believes we have the right to do these things. Remember, Washington is not disputing the fact we are torturing these prisoners, what they are saying is, what we are doing is "OK" under our Constitution. We can debate that, but what we can not debate, is what we are doing to our own troops, by having them in charge of this prison camp.

"Gitmo" as it is called by the Marines stationed there is a Marine base and it is staffed by Marines. Think about the television ads the Marine Corps puts out. Always at the end of every one of these recruitment ads, you see a sharp looking Marine in dress blues, usually with a shiny sword. It makes you feel proud just to see the ad.

Now think about being a real Marine, one who has to strap down prisoners, shove long tubes up their nostril which ends up in the prisoner's stomach, and then you send some sort of pureed food substance into that tube. After this "feeding' is done, you have to "pull the tube," and you have to guard the prisoner for hours, just to keep him from vomiting. This is your job, day after day. Intermixed with this duty are days of escorting prisoners to an interrogation cell where they are tortured. You don't have to torture them, but you might be told to "soften them up" before they go in, and you do have to listen to the screams while waiting to escort or drag them back to their cell.

Some day some loved one will ask one of these Marines, "What did you do in the war?" That Marine will be forced to relive that tour of duty, and think of something to say.

While the world is looking at and protesting how we treat these prisoners, no one is even asking what this is doing to our Marines. A tour of duty associated with the torture of other human beings will stick with you until the day you die. Many a veteran has had lifelong psychological problems from witnessing just one episode of torture by our government. What does a year of this type of work do?

Think about it, nobody wears Dress Blues while working at Gitmo Bay.

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