Force Feeding at Guantanamo Bay, and Ethics of the Hippocratic Oath

Force Feeding at Guantanamo Bay, and Ethics of the Hippocratic Oath

Accusations are being levied at President Obama for his order of force feeding the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.  Members of the medical profession are labeling it a violation of ethics as stated in the Hippocratic Oath.

Doctor Terry Kupers, psychiatrist and consultant for Human Rights Watch labels force feeding as aggravated assault, and says they it will result in “permanent psychological damage.”

Over 150 physicians have written President Obama to ask him to allow independent medical examinations of the prisoners.

In an interview with “RT,” Kupers was asked if he was optimistic that the Obama administration would allow outside medical personnel to administer aid to the detainees.  His result was negative.  He said if they were allowed to treat the men, they would receive humane treatment, and would receive care that would be beneficial to them.

Dr. Kupers stressed that the first principal of the Hippocratic Oath is ‘do no harm.’  He said that force feeding is in violation of the oath that every physician willfully accepts.

RT asked:  “The Chair of the US Senate Intelligence Committee has joined the line of Human rights groups and the UN in calling for an end to force feeding detainees as a method to keep hunger strikers alive. How will this affect the current situation?”

Dr. Kupers said that the military forces of the United States operate in an air of secrecy, and do not want the world to know what is actually occurring within its operations.  As the public becomes aware of the realities, such as was the situation in Abu Ghraib, they receive increased pressure to reveal the truth, and face the scrutiny of the American public.

RT asked Kupers what the effects of four months of a hunger strike could have on the men in Guantanamo.  He replied:

“It is potentially lethal for sure and after a month or two there is deterioration of organs. For different people, it means different organs and different rate of deterioration.  But yes, in the length of time these individuals have been on a hunger strike that is something one might expect to see, and that is a great tragedy.”

Asked about the effects of force feeding he said:  “Force-feeding is an entirely toxic situation where the individual is tied or strapped to a restraint chair. The tube is forced down their throat. They tend to vomit in that situation when food is forced into their body. They are being involuntarily medicated with medications that have very dangerous side effects.”

While the force feeding continues, the detainees continue to suffer other demeaning treatment.  They consistently undergo cavity searches, and intensive inspection of their personal belongings such as their Korans.

It is important for the average man or woman to be aware that these men have not been officially charged with any criminal or terrorist activities.  They are only listed as ‘suspects.’

This condition of imprisonment is not unlike those of former dictators such as Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Kim Jung Il.

Until the American people stand up and defend the principals of the United States, our government will continue to treat combatants who have not been charged with a specific crime, as less than human.  And the force feeding of those on a hunger strike will continue at Guantanamo Bay.  And under the ‘patriot act’ Constitutional violations, it could happen to you.

James Turnage

The Guardian Express