NYT publishes op-ed from Gitmo prisoner: Gitmo is killing me April 16, 2013
One man here weighs just 77 pounds. Another, 98. Last thing I knew, I weighed 132, but that was a month ago.
I’ve been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.
I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial.
I could have been home years ago — no one seriously thinks I am a threat — but still I am here. Years ago the military said I was a “guard” for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either.
When I was at home in Yemen, in 2000, a childhood friend told me that in Afghanistan I could do better than the $50 a month I earned in a factory, and support my family. I’d never really traveled, and knew nothing about Afghanistan, but I gave it a try.
I was wrong to trust him. There was no work. I wanted to leave, but had no money to fly home. After the American invasion in 2001, I fled to Pakistan like everyone else. The Pakistanis arrested me when I asked to see someone from the Yemeni Embassy. I was then sent to Kandahar, and put on the first plane to Gitmo.
Last month, on March 15, I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.
I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.
I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I’m sleeping.
There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren’t enough qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the clock just to keep up.
During one force-feeding the nurse pushed the tube about 18 inches into my stomach, hurting me more than usual, because she was doing things so hastily. I called the interpreter to ask the doctor if the procedure was being done correctly or not.
It was so painful that I begged them to stop feeding me. The nurse refused to stop feeding me. As they were finishing, some of the “food” spilled on my clothes. I asked them to change my clothes, but the guard refused to allow me to hold on to this last shred of my dignity.
When they come to force me into the chair, if I refuse to be tied up, they call the E.R.F. team. So I have a choice. Either I can exercise my right to protest my detention, and be beaten up, or I can submit to painful force-feeding.
The only reason I am still here is that President Obama refuses to send any detainees back to Yemen. This makes no sense. I am a human being, not a passport, and I deserve to be treated like one.
I do not want to die here, but until President Obama and Yemen’s president do something, that is what I risk every day.
Where is my government? I will submit to any “security measures” they want in order to go home, even though they are totally unnecessary.
I will agree to whatever it takes in order to be free. I am now 35. All I want is to see my family again and to start a family of my own.
The situation is desperate now. All of the detainees here are suffering deeply. At least 40 people here are on a hunger strike. People are fainting with exhaustion every day. I have vomited blood.
And there is no end in sight to our imprisonment. Denying ourselves food and risking death every day is the choice we have made.
I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late.
Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay since 2002, told this story, through an Arabic interpreter, to his lawyers at the legal charity Reprieve in an unclassified telephone call.
President Obama’s proposed 2014 budget for the Department of Justice will spend $4.1 billion more on prisons than on “national security,” the Justice Department revealed Wednesday.
Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday released the proposed 2014 budget for the Department of Justice: $27.6 billion – $1.6 billion less than the FY 2013 Justice budget, due to sequestration.
President Obama’s proposal for the Justice Department is up 3 percent from the FY 2012 proposal, but less than this year’s budget, the Department of Justice said in a statement.
According to the Justice Department statement, the proposal includes:
$8.5 billion for federal prisons and detention; $4.4 billion for national security; $395.1 million for (undefined) protection from gun violence; $92.6 million enhancement for cyber security; $55 million increase for investigating and prosecuting financial and mortgage fraud; $25 million increase for immigration enforcement; $258.6 million for civil rights; $2.3 billion in assistance to state, local and tribal law enforcement; $561.4 million in federal program offsets and rescissions.
Holder called the last item “efficiencies,” required by the budget sequestration.
It’s time to end the failed War on Drugs and let all the non-violent “criminals” out of jail. As they are not criminals. Government should have no say what we put into our bodies.
The New York Times reports of more financial woes for municipalities. Suffolk County will run $530 million into the red over the next three years and has declared a financial emergency. The New York state oversight board already seized financial control of Suffolk’s Long Island neighbor, Nassau County.
Danny Hakim writes,
Even as there are glimmers of a national economic recovery, cities and counties increasingly find themselves in the middle of a financial crisis. The problems are spreading as municipalities face a toxic mix of stresses that has been brewing for years, including soaring pension, Medicaid and retiree health care costs. And many have exhausted creative accounting maneuvers and one-time spending cuts or revenue-raisers to bail themselves out.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg told a radio audience, “Towns and counties across the state are starting to have to make the real choices — fewer cops, fewer firefighters, slower ambulance response, less teachers in front of the classroom.”
But this is not just a New York problem. State government has taken over finances for a number of cities in Michigan. Jefferson County, Alabama filed Chapter 9 and Stockton California is close to filing BK.
Municipalities shoulder much of the judicial system that polices, administers, and adjudicates the war on drugs and prison nation. The prison population in America equals that of the cities of Los Angeles and Miami combined. Putting this many people behind bars to be forgotten about by society is expensive, costing $6 billion a year.
The fact is most people shouldn’t be there in the first place. Loyola professor and prison economics expert Daniel J. D’Amico explains that the huge ramp-up in prison population began in the 1970s. Before then, the rate of incarceration remained stable at around 110 people in prison per 100,000. President Richard Nixon first used the term “war on drugs” on June 17, 1971 and then came the “tough on crime” movement lter that decade.
In 1980, fewer than half a million Americans were incarcerated. By 2008, the number was approaching 2.5 million. Another 4 million people are on probation. It is not violent criminals who are filling the nation’s jails and prisons. About half the prisoners in state penitentiaries are considered violent; less than 8 percent in federal prisons are violent, and fewer than 22 percent in the nation’s jails are there for a violent offense.
How can cash-strapped governments keep the monolithic judicial system operating?
Eric Perez died after suffering all night long, screaming and throwing up.
An 18-year-old Florida man has died after suffering a medical emergency while in jail on a marijuana charge. Records show that Superintendent Anthony Flowers of the Palm Beach Juvenile Detention Center instructed staff not to call 9-1-1 as young Eric Perez lay dying.
Perez, 18, had been screaming and vomiting all night long, but jailers at the Palm Beach Juvenile Detention Center didn’t call 9-1-1 until well after dawn, reports Carol Marbin Miller at the Miami Herald.
A detention center healthcare log shows the youth was not examined by a medical professional until 7:51 a.m. Four minutes later, lockup staff called a “Code White,” meaning the young man’s condition was critical, the log shows.
After the 2003 scandal involving the death of young Omar Paisley, who also died before paramedics could help him, the state had posted signs throughout 22 youth detention centers authorizing guards to call 9-1-1 at the first hint of an emergency.
In a cruel twist of irony, administrators promised in 2003 and 2004 that they would “treat every child as if he were your own” after guards waited three days before calling an ambulance for the doomed Paisley.
In an interview with The Herald on Tuesday, Secretary Wansley Walters claimed poor decision-making was responsible for Perez’s death, rather than policies, procedures, training or money.
“The secretary told me there was no question at all that 911 should have been called,” said state Senator Ronda Storms, who serves on the powerful Justice Appropriations Subcommittee and chairs the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee.
”There was no evidence he was acting out,” said Storms, a Republican from Valrico. “He was a good kid. He’s doing everything he’s supposed top do. If this is how they treat the good kids, how do they treat the kids who are acting out? That’s a scary proposition.”
Four guards and a nurse were in the room with Perez, who had turned 18 eight days before, in his final moments, with two other guards outside, according to the medical log. “One officer doing rescue breathing and me doing chest compressions,” the nurse wrote.
Paramedics arrived at 8 a.m., connecting the youth to their defibrillator and began doing chest compressions themselves, according to the log.
“Their machine got a flat line,” the nurse wrote in the log. “They said nothing they could do; they police would then take over from there.”
The last note in the log is just one word: “Deceased.”
Eric was stopped on June 29 while riding his bicycle because the bike did not have a night light. During the stop, officers found a small amount of marijuana on him.
Because he was already on probation for a robbery charge from years ago, the 5’8”, 120-pound Perez was sent to the detention center.
At admission, Eric told lockup staff he had smoked “one hit” of marijuana three hours before.
Eric Perez spent his horrible last night here at the Palm Beach Juvenile Detention Center.
On July 10 at around 1:30 a.m., Eric complained of a severe headache and began hallucinating that an imaginary person was on top of him. He had been throwing up for hours as guards called a nurse who did not answer her phone.
Records show that lockup supervisors and the facility’s superintendent, Anthony Flowers, instructed staff not to call 9-1-1.
One guard who told the Herald he had tried to call 9-1-1, but was ordered not to by his supervisors, has been fired, along with two others. Three additional employees have been suspended, including Superintendent Flowers.
Eric’s mother, Maritza Perez, 47, who had initially asked to see the video of his final hours at the lockup cancelled her request hours before a scheduled Tuesday morning hearing on the fate of the video, reports theHerald. “Ms. Perez reserves the right to renew this request at a later date,” read a pleading filed in Palm Beach Circuit Court by Perez’s lawyers.
Perez’s withdrawal of her request likely means the public won’t know any time soon exactly what exactly happened the morning of July 10 at the lockup. In the spring, state lawmakers revised Florida’s public records law, forbidding the release of pictures or recordings that show a person dying.
The bill, which took effect last month, has an exception for the spouse, parents or relatives of the deceased, who may still be given copies.
Perez had said repeatedly she wanted “the world” to know how her son died, but if she doesn’t renew her request for the video, it is unlikely to see the light of day.
“Policy decisions carry with them very real consequences,” said Robert Capecchi of the Marijuana Policy Project. “When it comes to our current marijuana policy, those consequences tend to lean towards the tragic — lost lives, destroyed families, and government waste.
“Until we replace our failed marijuana policies with more sensible and less destructive alternatives, we will continue to see stories like Mr. Perez’s,” Capecchi said.