One hundred detainees at Guanantamo Bay are on a hunger strike, and the Navy sent 40 sailors to the base over the weekend to keep the prisoners from dying. "We will not allow a detainee to starve themselves to death and we will continue to treat each person humanely," Lt. Col. Samuel House said. Why are they on a hunger strike? The New York Times and the Miami Herald have pointed to a single explanation: despair. No one is getting off the island. Not only has President Obama been unable to close the detention facility, but a compromise measure, parole-style hearings to determine if some detainees should be transferred, has been delayed more than a year. Why? Because the federal bureaucracy can't decide what to do with evidence obtained by torture. The most important factor, the Times reports, is that the CIA won't admit that it used torture. Here are a few core democratic principles the CIA is glossing over these days:
No review boards at Gitmo.
Guantanamo detainees can't get their "Periodic Review Board" hearings because of "interagency fights" over how to deal with evidence obtained by torture. "In particular, they said, the C.I.A. has resisted any formal pronouncement that its interrogators violated that standard," the Times' Charlie Savage reports. A 600-page independent review by the nonprofit Constitution Center concluded in April that "it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture." At his confirmation to be CIA chief in February, John Brennan refused to say whether waterboarding is torture. "As far as I'm concerned, waterboarding is something that never should have been employed, and as far as I'm concerned, never will be if I have anything to do with it," Brennan said. But did it violate the Geneva Conventions? "I believe the attorney general also has said it's contrary and in contravention of the Geneva Convention. Again, I'm not a lawyer or a legal scholar to make the determination as to what's in violation of an international convention."