Earlier this week, the Guardian published a video of rapper Yasiin Bey demonstrating a force-feeding procedure that Guantanamo Bay Prison inmates on hunger strike undergo. The video shows Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, gasping and writhing in pain as someone in scrubs attempts to insert a feeding tube up his nose. With more than 4 million YouTube views as of this writing, the video has become the latest symbol of the United States's problematic treatment—some say torture—of Guantanamo prisoners. Setting aside, for a moment, the moral implications, let us consider the visceral ones: What can the procedure do to your health?
For starters, it can kill you, says Dr. Steven Miles a practicing physician and founder of the Doctors Who Torture accountability project.
Here's how the procedure is supposed to work: You take something called a nasogastric feeding tube, and you insert it through the nose and drop it into the esophagus. That allows doctors to pump liquid nutrients directly into the stomach. But the human throat has two passageways, the esophagus, and the trachea, or upper airway. For a feeding tube to successfully drop into the esophagus, the epiglottis—a flap above the trachea--has to be covering the trachea. Otherwise, the tube will drop into the trachea and right into the patient's lungs.
"That's the point where [Bey] starts gasping and saying, 'Stop, stop, stop.' And that's what happens when you get an uncooperative person," Miles says.
Swallowing closes the epiglottis, so Miles typically instructs his patients to sip water while their feeding tubes are inserted. But in the Guardian video, "there's nobody giving [Bey] sips of water through a straw, guiding the tube into his stomach. There's nobody telling him to swallow now, swallow now, swallow now," he says.
If a tube is indeed dropped into a patient's lung and left undetected, the tube floods the lung with feeding solution and could cause the patient's death. "There are a lot of potential complications, including pneumonia and respiratory failure," Justin Sewell, an assistant clinical professor at the UCSF School of Medicine, says.
Such complications are rare. Nevertheless, at least three major medical associations consider force-feeding a violation of international medical ethics. Yet of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay--106 of whom are on hunger strike to protest prison conditions--45 are currently being force-fed. Four of those detainees are protesting the continuation of the procedure into Ramadan.
According to psychologist Steven Reisner, Ph.D., the health effects of force-feeding extend into the psychological sphere. "Here's the thing about trauma," Reisner says regarding force-feeding. "Physical violation is not what causes trauma. What causes trauma is the psychological violation on top of the physical violation, the absolute destruction of something somebody holds deep or meaningful."
When prison officials force-feed an inmate, they silence his ability to communicate something he deems important. This could constitute the 'absolute destruction' to which Reisner's referring, and could induce trauma.
Several counterarguments exist in support of force-feeding. At an April 30 press conference, Obama defended the military's decision to continue the practice, saying, "I don't want these individuals to die."
But the notion that it's an either-or situation is "simply not true," Dr. Steven Miles says. "The prisoners have said, 'look, if you change the conditions of our confinement, we'll eat,'" he says. "So there's another way out of this."
If they want to starve themselves to death, they should be allowed to die. Take the burden off the taxpayers. If all the prisoners at Guantanamo choose to die this way, then all the better.
You know, I was thinking the same thing, if starvation is how they chose to go out let em. If they don't want to eat don't feed them. Just don't expect people to join your pity party while you do it.
Undoubtedly Pollyanna, the 12 year old girl who writes all Popular Science articles, is shocked by your comments.
But the fact that these are super criminals who have devoted their lives to crimes against mankind is too much for the mind of one so young.
That several of those released from Guantanamo have returned to terrorist activities is immaterial to the immature.
To the mind of a fool an argument that amounts to a defense of terrorism and the right to commit terrorism without fear of repercussion makes perfect sense.
It is insanity and we have a president that proves it.
And you are correct, they ought to be allowed to starve themselves to death.
The top comments are from crazy people.
Most of the people in Gitmo havent even been tried.
Arent we Americans? What ever happened to having a fair trial?
I think its crazy that you people think being forced to live in conditions so terrible you opt to kill yourself is a shining example of the war of terrorism.
That's what I was thinking, Wanamingo. No trial was provided to the detainees at Gitmo. While there is likely a reason for the people being there, they are innocent until PROVEN guilty in a court of law. After that, send them to the lions, but until then, this is not what America should stand for.
All of the guys in prisons in CA that are going through a hunger strike are a different story.
What a baby.
Here are two teenage girls getting the same treatment. Notice who cries like a girl out of the three.
And here I thought rappers were bad***es.
Then again, it probably didn't hurt him, and he's just crying to make the video.
Also, for those crying about Gitmo detainiees not having a trial; they are essentially prisoners of war; enemy combatants. They don't fall into civilian jurisdiction. The method for finding them guilty is more along the lines of
"Well, he shot at my head, and lobbed some IEDs at my unit, and his equipment was supplied by the Taliban."
To me that seems like a pretty good reason to consider them an enemy combatant.
Plus most people that go to Guantanamo are released later. Look at the population rates.
Finally, Gitmo is a remarkably pleasant prison. And many personnel are on hand to ensure the rights of those detainees. The conditions of the prison are objectively, demonstrably better than most prisons in California (as an example).
There is one thing that happens in Gitmo that doesn't happen in United States prisons, and that would be waterboarding. However, most prisoners there are not waterboarded. When the 'scandal' broke under George Bush that made our current president "ashamed" of his country, there were only three people that had been waterboarded.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (mastermind of 9/11) and two other, convicted, proven guilty terrorists, psychologically (not physically) tortured so that they would divulge information on their terrorism network. (Oh, and getting Osama Bin Ladin.)
-Rapper is a melodramatic pansy
-Gitmo detainees are treated very well, are there under confirmed suspicion, or held temorarily under reasonable suspicion.
-Those found innocent are released. Records of this are freely available.
-Waterboarding done on a few, confirmed terrorists as interrogation technique, not wanton punishment.
FYI, as you comment and use your free speech, the NSA is listening to all people of the world in real time, innocent or guilty, with or without a record and if your key words in your communication register on the NSA program, further investigation of in higher detail will occur. If later these key words via a program or secret analyst somewhere hidden finds you a possible suspect terrorist of the state, you could be removed from society and transported to an off location of the USA soil, perhaps GTMO, for further study and interrogation, making this all perfectly legal as now you are deem a suspect terrorist and off USA soil, removed of your rights, free speech and legal counsel.
The 4th Admendment of the Consition is being completely abuse and or ignored.
The used of the governmental department NSA and the USA off shore prison GTMO are completely intertwined to control and remove individuals deemed enemy of the state and in doing so removing their human rights as well, if either you are a USA citizen or human being from any where else of the world.
While most of the media is completely aware of GTMO, it would be perfectly logical to assume there are other remote off shore prison camps around the word doing the same thing and are completely secret, cut off from media eyes, since the point is to remove ALL rights as a human in the first place and in this the media would be consider an obstacle to that goal.
Finally, if that doesn't work, just have a drone blow you and your group up from afar....
I am sure those guys at Gitmo are the kindest of saints, only wanting to get home so they can feed orphans and widows. We shouldn't be taking them from their good works.
Some of you people really live in a dream world. Those thugs are trying to murder you. You bunch of Stupids! Grow up. There are bad people in the world and they don't care about you or your silly beliefs. They only want to murder you. You may not believe this but there are thousands of people who simply can't be allowed to live in society. They rape, murder, steal and organize crime and sell drugs.
Thank God for prisons!
If Obama wants, I'd be willing to give them a new pill. It has proved it's worth. The pill is a copper clad chunk of lead that is injected into the head. The terrorist will feel no pain and be off to their maker. Pretty sure they will get a very warm welcome.
"If they'd rather die then perhaps they had better do so and decrease the surplus population!"
Said Ebenezer Scrooge before he learned to love.
But that's just a Christmas Carol, a story for kids of course, how could that possibly inform the real world.
Before I comment, I feel compelled to say that I'm a liberal, haven't voted for a Republican since I knew better (late 80's), and despise the wars GWB have got us in to.
Having said that, I must also add that I'm a Registered Nurse, and for the last 18 years have performed this "standard operating procedure" on patients throughout my career. The placement of a feeding tube - in medicine - is necessary for those who cannot swallow. A similar more rigid tube (NGT) is often used not only for feeding, but emptying the stomach for the patient with a GI blockage or distended stomach (someone with a high risk of aspirating their stomach contents).
This procedure is uncomfortable as heck. Student nurses used to be required to practice it on each other. For the conscious and aware patient, for someone who can participate in the procedure, it is uncomfortable - but not to the extent that Mr. Def portrayed. His reaction is more along the line of patients who are confused or suffer from dementia and have no way of knowing what's going on ... or those in the situation of G-bay, those who don't want it done. In a hospital setting, the patient has a right to refuse ... so, for the conscious, aware patient - his experience is not like this.
I just want to make sure people understand this was a dramatic presentation. If you have to go to the hospital and require the procedure to deflate your stomach or for feeding, no one is going to put restraints on you or force you to stay in bed. It is uncomfortable, but if you assist (usually with swallowing from a cup of water as the nurse advances the tube), you will not have the traumatic experience demonstrated here.
It is uncomfortable ... it is not torture.
Many of the people who have been in gitmo never posed a threat to the US at all. At the start of the war afghans were given a reward for turning people in, so they would turn anyone they disliked or simply didn't care about. So a bunch of Uyghurs (traveling chinese muslims) were reported and ended up in gitmo along with a bunch of others we didnt take the time to vet. I think most were just traveling some may have posed a mild terrorist threat to china regardless china would not have been kind to them had they been returned. So we know they don't pose a threat to us but some jack ass sisters band together and block any release of gitmo prisoners to mainland usa. So there they sat, year after year. In an unrelated even another prisoner hung himself with his bed sheets so they were removed from all the cells. The Uyghurs became convinced that the removal of sheets was retaliation for their legal appeals to be released and wanted to drop the dead end case in hopes of winning their sheets back. Just a sad small example of how we absolutely screw people over sometimes.
I am generally opposed to the notion I do think the choice to end ones own life should be a basic human right.
Not force feeding, HALAL beheading executions is what is required.
Like phantomrepublic said, it is not torture. I have had a similar procedure (I don't remember what it was called) that required taking a tube up the nose and down the esophagus to measure swallowing capabilities before stomach surgery. Putting the tube up my nose was the most painful part of the procedure and took several attempts before I could handle the pain, however after that it was simply uncomfortable to have a foreign object down my throat. It was not nearly as bad as this video makes it out to be. I've even had several endoscopies while conscious and it was not painful in any way (again aside from the weird feeling of having a tube down your throat).
I'd like to know what crimes these people have been accused of, though, I've heard numerous people say "they were just picked up for being suspicious" or "they would report their neighbors to get more money". If that we're the case I'm sure there would be thousands of inmates. Not to mention all of these prisoners who have been 'cleared for release', there's a reason why they haven't been sent back to their country of origin. More than a few of the inmates were denied access back to their own countries! Their own country didn't want them back!
What is the US supposed to do? If they let them starve themselves to death the government will take all sorts of heat. If they are force fed the government will be the bad guy, if they let them all go only to be attacked by a released inmate the government is to blame and last of all no one wants them in the contiguous US! If you don't want them force fed what do you propose as an alternative?! Let me remind you that the hunger strike isn't regarding their innocence; it is related to the mistreatment of personal items during searches, specifically the mishandling of the Quran.
"It is uncomfortable ... it is not torture."
Only a fool would make such a broad statement. While anatomy and physiology classes present human beings as being uniform creatures at birth, uniform we ain't. An undiagnosed hiatal hernia or ulcerative GERD can quickly transform a generally well-tolerated procedure into a hideous form of torture.
To an uncooperative subject who has refused nutrition during their hunger strike, forced feeding is an attempt to break ones will by treating him like a dog.
Torture is defined by those being tortured, NOT the person administering the torture.
Hello everybody,wow! I really liked that dudes movies but seeing this just makes me think he as some people have mentioned is a pasty. I am a health care worker and I do have done this thousands of times, standard ER procedure is usually to numb area with a 10 minute nebulizer of 2cc of 2% lidocaine and then down the hatchet. Most people feel the pressure and not the pain, but again these are people who are first timers. I present you with what should make this rapper/actor embarrassed and should If i give him the doubt and chance to sue who ever did this to him was done wrong. But then most likely who ever made the video wanted the media monster to make a bigger deal than it is just to stir up the media frenzy pot and for this I say shame on them. Here is a video of a little girl who does it all her self and doesn't even bat and eye ,well she did burp but hey it is torture right(not)www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJIFOCbPTjo.
I don't know what is going on over there but then again most of us don't either we all are just assuming and then use our own bias to pass judgement .
I agree we need to hold ourselfs in a higher standard then the terrorist least we all are seen as the same, which we are not. But don't be a pot stirrer and make a big deal about a procedure done by thousands of unfortunate souls thoughout the world with little pain but only slight discomfort. I like the first guy who screams "burn them" in a "trail". I believe a most americans that we try very hard to be a professional as possible and to that extent we would be using trained professionals and not some hip hop flunkies to perform the procedure just to scream "fire". Shame on them.
Just because there are a few that are unethical does not mean the whole. Not all white people are racist or not all Muslims want do destroy the world. There will always be people who want to feed us there own misinterpreted truth . It's up to us to be informed and educated on the issues, and if we don't then demand the more transparency . But as an expert in this tube feeding issue I'll call it as I see it and this story is full of bull.
Don't believe me watch the video I post here, it says it all. Thank you.
I wonder what the general reaction would be if the person in the chair was a frail delicate woman?