Miami Herald reporter: Guantanamo prisoners would rather starve than live in legal limbo

By David Ferguson
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 9:33 EDT
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Carol Rosenberg of Miami Herald
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Tuesday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow welcomed Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg to the program. Rosenberg has covered the offshore U.S. prison at Guantanamo, Cuba since it was opened in 2002. The reporter detailed the recent hunger strike and the breakdown in relations between inmates and guards that led up to it.

On Tuesday, Rosenberg published a new article about the American Medical Association’s opposition to forced feedings of the hunger strikers. Conditions, she said, have deteriorated at the prison. The individuals held there see themselves as having no way out, and have resorted to hunger strikes and civil disobedience in hopes of attracting the intervention of the international community.

Guantanamo is currently on lockdown. Prisoners have gone from being confined in communal groups of 6 to 8 to each being locked alone in a cell. Spokespersons for the military have said that the confinement is a response to prisoners’ tampering with cameras and interfering with prison operations.

Rosenberg said that attorneys for the prisoners see the camera tampering as a cry for help.

“One by one they covered up their cameras,” said Rosenberg. “We’re talking about 80, 90, 100 detainees of the 166. They put cereal boxes on their cameras. If you listen to the attorneys, this was considered a sign of distress. They believed their conditions had gotten to be so bad they wanted someone to intervene.”

Guards at the prison have conducted a series of raids on the prisoners’ cells, allegedly confiscating personal items, photos and legal papers. The prisoners, 86 of whom were designated for release four years ago, are protesting what they see as a steady erosion of the few civil rights they have.

“The underlying message is frustration,” said Rosenberg, “These men have been held here for 11 years. Eighty-six of them were designated about four years ago for release with conditions and nothing has happened. So that frustration has boiled up and when this shakedown came, when the new guards arrived, whatever the source of tension was, broke — erupted into this hunger strike.”

She concluded by saying that there really are no grounds to hold many of the prisoners, that “reviews conducted by the CIA, the DIA, the FBI, the State Department, the Justice Department looked at the files and said 86 men shouldn’t be there, let’s find a way to get them out and they haven’t gotten them out.”

Now, she said, the prisoners “don’t see a way out” and would rather starve themselves than go on in legal limbo.

Watch the clip, embedded via MSNBC, below:

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David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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