If President George W. Bush shows no qualms about violating the 217-year-old
U.S. Constitution or the 791-year-old Magna Carta, why should we be surprised
to find that he is now violating the 2,400-year-old Hippocratic Oath?
And yet this week's revelation of how U.S. doctors are force-feeding
captives on hunger strike in Bush's concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay still
has the power to shock and sicken -- not just from the savage act itself, but
also for the wider moral defeat it represents: another open embrace of raw brutality,
another step in America's accelerating plunge into vicious despotism.
News of the hunger strike has been trickling out from the ever-incurious U.S.
media for months. Indeed, Pentagon warlord Donald Rumsfeld even joked about
prisoners "going on a diet." But the full scope of the strike -- and
the unethical methods being used to quash it -- only emerged this week in The
Observer, which obtained legal affidavits from the Army doctors involved in
this "torture lite." The strike, which began last August with a handful
of captives, has now spread to 81 prisoners trying to starve themselves to death.
Men driven to such desperation make bad PR for their captors -- especially a blustering
pipsqueak who likes to pass himself off as a God-blessed beacon of goodness and
freedom. So the strikers are being strapped down and force-fed by tubes shoved
through their noses and crammed down into their stomachs. This daily process leaves
them bleeding and retching, according to sworn testimony from the concentration
camp's hospital chief, Captain John Edmondson.
The good doctor defended the practice as humane, noting that his medicos grease
the captives' nostrils with lubricant, and use only "soft and flexible"
3-millimeter hoses -- an amelioration of their previous technique: stuffing
4.8-millimeter hard-rubber tubes down nose and gullet in order to pump gruel
into a prisoner's belly more quickly. Yet despite the Christ-like tenderness
of this treatment, Edmondson is now being sued in California, his native state,
for unprofessional conduct. It seems that U.S. doctors are legally bound by
the 1975 World Medical Association Tokyo Declaration, which explicitly forbids
force-feeding under any circumstances.
Ah, but what are laws, treaties and oaths in our brave new world? There are
of course no inherent legal protections or human rights in the Bushist philosophy
of power. Like his brother in blood, Osama bin Laden, Bush recognizes no law
beyond his own will. Anyone he designates an "enemy" -- without any
charges or evidence whatsoever -- becomes sub-human, a piece of trash. And so
it is with the Guantanamo captives. None of them has been charged with any crime,
as The Observer notes; none has been shown any evidence justifying their imprisonment,
or knows how long they will be held. Many of the hunger strikers have been chained
in this agonizing limbo for more than four years, a living death guaranteed
to induce torment, madness and fatal despair.
Yet it has been thoroughly documented -- sometimes by the Pentagon itself --
that numerous "Terror War" prisoners are innocent men (and children)
who have been falsely accused through incompetent intelligence work, or even
sold into captivity by bounty hunters paid by eager Bushist agents, as The Washington
Post reports. We know too, by the regime's own admission, that all "high-value"
terrorist targets are held in secret CIA prisons hidden around the globe, not
But last week Bush turned the screws even tighter on his Gitmo trash, signing
a law that strips the captives of the ancient right of habeas corpus, which
predates the Magna Carta. They are to have no access to the legal system, not
even a simple declaration of why they are being held. What's more, last week
Bush also asserted his right to ignore an anti-torture law he had just signed,
The Boston Globe reports. Even as he reaped kudos for his apparent approval
of the mild restraints on torture pushed by Senator John McCain, Bush simultaneously
issued a "signing statement" -- an unconstitutional "presidential
interpretation" of law -- declaring that he can set aside the law if he
feels it conflicts with his "authority as commander-in-chief" at any
point. (Cries of "Amen, brother!" were immediately heard in that quadrant
of hell where Hitler and Stalin sit gnawing on the anuses of rats.)
No doubt any spot of legal bother about force-feeding captives will be dismissed
under the rubric of this unbridled "authority," perhaps with the help
of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, a longtime apologist for authoritarian
rule by unrestrained presidents. After all, it was Alito himself who concocted
the law-gutting device of the presidential "signing statement" when
he was a legal factotum in the Ronald Reagan White House, The Washington Post
But just how far does the "Commander's" torture authority reach?
To the crushing of an innocent child's testicles. So says John Yoo, the former
deputy assistant attorney general who helped craft the official White House
"torture memos" that justified any torture short of permanent maiming
or death -- and even countenanced the latter if it was "unintentional."
Yoo also helped devise the regime's crank philosophy of the "unitary executive"
-- that is, dictatorship for a "war president." In response to a question
at a public debate last month, Yoo declared that Bush could override any law
or treaty and order his goons to crush the testicles of a prisoner's child in
the name of "national security," commentator Andrew Sullivan reports.
Crushed testicles. Torture. Tyranny. Aggressive war. Bush better start developing
a taste for rat rectums right away. He's going to need it.
of Force-Fed Prisoners
The Obsever, Jan. 8, 2006
Andrewsullivan.com, Dec. 17, 2005
Who is Watching
The Daily Cardinal, Dec. 14, 2005
Says President Has Legal Power to Torture Children
Information Clearinghouse, Jan. 8, 2006
Once Made Case For Presidential Power
The Washington Pos, Jan. 2, 2006
Bush's Rough Justice
The Guardian, Jan. 12, 2006
Defends Guantanamo Decision
Associated Press, Nov. 2, 2005
New Gitmo Torture Testimony
Amnesty International, Jan. 10, 2006
FISA and the DNA of Tyranny
Empire Burlesque, Jan. 11, 2006
GOP Senators Blast Bush Bid to Bypass Torture Ban
Boston Globe, Jan. 5, 2006
Imprisonment:Anatomy of a CIA Mistake
Washington Post, Dec. 3, 2005
Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons
Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2005
held, tortured: six tell same tale
The Guardian, Dec. 6, 2005
Burlesque, Dec. 28, 2005
The Hippocratic Oath
BBC, Aug. 20, 2003
History of Habeas Corpus
BBC, March 9, 2005