Joe Six-Pack, USMC (Ret.) here. You probably have never heard of the mission with that name. That’s understandable, as I just made it up, though the operation is ongoing, embarrassing, and tragic.
“Operation Enduring Travesty” is what I call what is going on with the prisoners our nation has incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, aka “GITMO.”
Are you aware that there are 166 folks still being held at GITMO? Are you aware that of those 166, 87 of them have been cleared for release, but are still behind bars? I’d call that your Whiskey Tango Foxtrot factoid of the day. 46 of the prisoners have been indefinitely detained without charge or trial.
On top of all that, for five weeks now 24 to 25 of the prisoners have been on hunger strike. Who knew?
Five weeks is a pretty long time to have not heard anything about this in the news, yes? According to Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, 8 of these folks have had stomach tubes put in so they can be “fed” through the nose.
Rosenberg is at GITMO now, and here is a snippet of her latest report,
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — Navy medical staff were treating two captives suffering dehydration in the prison camp hospital at Guantánamo as the military disclosed Tuesday that the number of hunger strikers had risen to 24.
The military said in a statement that eight of the 166 war-on-terror captives had missed enough meals and lost enough body weight to be fed nutritional supplements by tubes snaked up their noses and into their stomachs. Guards shackle detainees into restraint chairs to carry out the twice daily feedings.
Two detainees were at the hospital receiving electrolytes for dehydration, the statement said. It did not make clear whether those two men were considered part of the eight receiving Ensure nutritional supplements or among the 24 men defined Tuesday morning as “hunger strikers.”
Rosenberg is the “go to” person on this story, and you will find a lot of links to information about what is happening at GITMO when you read the rest of her report.
So why am I writing about this situation today? Because “Operation Enduring Travesty” must end.
Because half of the prisoners are cleared for release, but still being sat on. Because a big chunk of them are being indefinitely detained, without charges. Because Christ the Lord included visiting prisoners in the corporal works of mercy, and I can’t get to Cuba, but I can try and raise awareness of the travesty that is ongoing there.
A couple of Catholic blogging friends of mine came up with the idea to make today a “Close GITMO” Blog-in, and I threw my chips into the game. The hunger strikers want an apology for officials alleged mishandling of the Koran. Why won’t we apologize? Here’s a better question: Why won’t we arrange transport for the 87 folks cleared for release so they can get back home?
Familiarize yourself with the situation in GITMO. Here are a few salient facts from the folks at Veterans for Peace,
Eleven years later, here are the statistics that make Guantanamo a word of infamy (with apologies to those who live in the city of Guantanamo, Cuba). Statistics are from Reprieve, a UK human rights group, and Human Rights First…
779 persons have been imprisoned in Guantanamo since January 11, 2002.
166 prisoners are still detained in Guantanamo.
603 prisoners have been released.
1 Guantanamo prisoner has been convicted by US federal courts (Ahmed Ghalilani).
9 have died in Guantanamo, 6 allegedly by suicide and 3 of “natural causes.” (3 from Afghanistan, 3 from Saudi Arabia and 3 from Yemen).
Only 6 of the 779 prisoners have been put before a military commission.
4 prisoners eventually agreed to plea bargains.
1 prisoner has been convicted in a military commission.
1 prisoner is still at trial.
87 prisoners of the 166 (one-half) have been “cleared for transfer” by senior officials six US government agencies, but have not been released.90 of the 166 are from Yemen, 18 from Afghanistan, 8 from Saudi Arabia, 7 from Algeria, 6 from Pakistan, 5 from Tunisia, 4 from China, 4 from Libya, 3 the Palestinian Territories, 3 from Syria, 2 from Mauritania, 2 from Uzbekistan, 2 from Malaysia, 2 from Sudan, 2 from Kuwait and one each from Kenya, Indonesia, Russia, Morocco, Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq and Tajikistan.
30 of those cleared for release are from Yemen and are being held until “conditions in the country improve,” which means with US drone strikes in Yemen increasing, they will not be released for a long time, much less the other 60 from Yemen.
Only 16 prisoners are considered “high value” (3 from Pakistan, 2 from Afghanistan, 2 Saudi Arabia, 2 Yemen, 2 Malaysia, 1 Indonesia, 1 Somalia, 1 Palestinian Territories, 1 Iraq, 1 Libya).
36 prisoners have now been designated for trial.
46 prisoners have been designated by the Obama administration for indefinite detention without charge or trial.
38 prisoners have been determined to be held unlawfully by US Federal Courts.
$27,251 — yearly cost to US taxpayers of a federal prisoner.
$800,000 — yearly cost to US taxpayer of a Guantanamo prisoner.
$150 million — yearly cost to operate Guantanamo.
Nearly 500 persons have been convicted by Federal Courts since 9/11 on terror-related charges.
355 persons convicted in Federal Courts of terror-related charges currently are being held in US Federal prisons.
0 persons convicted in Federal Courts of terror-related charges have escaped from any part of the Federal prison system.
4 cases involving Guantanamo prisoner rights have gone to the US Supreme Court.
In all 4 cases involving Guantanamo prisoner rights, the Supreme Court justices have sided with the prisoners.
During the 11 years of Guantanamo prison operations, hundreds of prisoners have gone on extended hunger strikes for treatment according to the Geneva conventions and reasonable condition such as having clean water bottles with meals. Military personal force-fed hunger strikers through painful nasal tubes.
Here’s what you can do. First off, say prayer for these people.
Next, go to Ironic Catholic’s blog, as she has all the links to contact your Congressional representatives, and the POTUS as well. Contact them.
Finally, share this information with others. If you think that little ‘ole you can’t do anything, and you can’t be heard on this issue, I’ll remind you of something a wise man said once,
Another wise man, Holy Spirit inspired, said that,
Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a foul odor;
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
Qoheleth just described GITMO to a “t.”
Time to close it, and make good on our supposed championship of human rights and the dignity of persons. Help us remind our leaders of this responsibility today.
Did you see where Pope Francis is celebrating Mass on Holy Thursday? A prison. When they can’t come to us, see, we have to go to them.
List of Bloggers involved (I’ll add to this throughout the day):
Chocolate For Your Brain
Thomas L. McDonald: Do You Remember Bobby Sands? [Gitmo Blog-Around]
Mark Shea: Close Gitmo.
Deacon Scott Dodge: “Come now, let us set things right” (Isa. 1:18a)