At a White House press conference Tuesday, President Obama said he would again press Congress to allow the Guantanamo Bay detention center to be closed, and that the 100 detainees currently on hunger strike there have shown that "this is a lingering problem that is not going to get better — it's going to get worse, it's going to fester." Obama's failure to get Gitmo closed is his most famous broken campaign promise from 2008, and even promised parole-style hearings have been delayed more than a year. "For a lot of Americans the notion is out-of-sight-out-of-mind, and it's easy to demagogue the issue — that's what happened the first time this came up. I'm going to go back at it, because I think it's important," Obama said. "All of us should reflect on why, exactly, are we doing this." Yes, all of us. Because what has kept Gitmo open is a chain of elected and appointed officials making sure there's no way they can be blamed if the detainees there commit a crime in the future.
"I don't want these individuals to die," Obama said, insisting the Pentagon was handling the hunger strike "as best as they can." The American Medical Association doesn't think so. The Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg reports that the AMA has written a letter to the Pentagon saying "force feeding of detainees violates core ethical values of the medical profession." If detainees won't eat, they're fed through a tube in their noses, usually by enlisted sailors with medical training and now by medics who recently arrive in Cuba. By Monday, the prison had a 1-to-1 prisoner-to-medical-worker ratio. Five detainees have been hospitalized, and 21 are being nose-tubed.