Prisoners taking part in an expanding hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay leveled new complaints about their military jailers Wednesday as a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross made a fact-finding trip to the U.S. base in Cuba.
In an emergency motion filed with a federal court in Washington, lawyers say guards have refused to provide drinking water to hunger strikers and kept camp temperature “extremely frigid,” to thwart the protest. A spokesman for the detention center denied the allegations….
They filed the petition after interviewing Yemeni prisoner Musaab al-Madhwani by phone Monday. He told them that guards were refusing to provide bottled water and telling prisoners to drink from tap water that inmates believe is non-potable. The lawyers say in their motion that the lack of drinkable water has “already caused some prisoners kidney, urinary and stomach problems,” in addition to the health effects of the hunger strike.
Along with their motion, they submitted an affidavit from Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist and retired general, who believes that the hunger strike and lack of adequate drinking water “sets them up for gastrointestinal infections and a quick demise.” The doctor also said the 34-year-old al-Madhwani suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder linked to his torture while in U.S. custody in Afghanistan and could be worsened by harsh conditions at Guantanamo….
White House spokesman Josh Earnest say Obama’s team is closely monitoring the hunger strikes, but deferred to the Pentagon for any specifics.
“The administration remains committed to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo bay,” Earnest said, noting that legislation passed by Congress makes it likely that process won’t be quick.
Thomas Wilner, “counsel of record to Guantanamo detainees in Rasul v. Bush and Boumediene v. Bush, the two Supreme Court cases that established detainees’ right to habeas corpus”, in the Washington Post yesterday:
… But the cost to our nation is more than economic. Many who have been charged with protecting our national security, including former defense secretary Robert Gates, former national security adviser Dennis Blair, former CIA director David Petraeus and former secretary of state Colin Powell, have pointed out that Guantanamo actually hurts U.S. security. As Sen. John McCain emphasized during his bid for the White House, when he “strongly” favored closing Guantanamo, the prison is a negative symbol that serves as an important recruiting tool for terrorists. President Obama himself has said that Guantanamo has probably “created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.”
“There is also no question,” Obama said in a May 2009 speech, that Guantanamo has undermined “America’s strongest currency in the world” — our “moral authority.”