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May 9, 2013

Gitmo Pics They Felt You Kinda Oughta See: “Internal Nourishment Preparation”

My guess is that the Gitmo hunger strike has reached such a crisis point that the military felt it couldn’t show it but couldn’t not show it. The effect of that conflict appears to have led to these very clinical photos, the antiseptic quality inviting the mind to run wild.

Although photos from Gitmo have typically excluded the prisoners themselves, not seeing them and knowing they are wasting away makes their absence here that much more palpable. (I think the CYA-minded Pentagon really believes these pictures are informational when they’re not, they’re documentary.) Scenes of olives being delivered that will never be eaten, or full Styrofoam containers getting chucked in the trash, or bottles of Ensure on patient trays next to surgical tubes (to make sure you don’t die on us while the world is watching) can’t help but prompt us to see the prisoners in our own minds (or even imagine we’re getting the treatment).

While the government and the military pretend these photos maintain an adequate level of abstraction, however,  to me they do the opposite. In waging a war of wills at the most primitive level, these photos, if highly institutional, somehow take me back to Abu Ghraib. Torturing a man for information, or out of sadism or to keep him alive, is still torture. And as for breaking the will, well, martyrdom is martyrdom, whether it’s by jetliner or by leaving us with rotting containers full of bananas.

See a larger set of images at MoJo.

(photos: Army Sgt. Brian Godette. caption 1: Guard Force soldier discards breakfast delivered earlier in the morning which was refused by detainees in Camps V and VI , Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, April 10, 2013. caption 2 & 3: Feeding chair and internal nourishment preparation inside the Joint Medical Group where the detainees receive medical care, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, April 10, 2013.)

  • black_dog_barking

    Don’t envy the military their role here. Their job is to implement whatever policy comes down the right channels — no matter how brain-dead the policy. The care and feeding of the so-called “enemy combatants” in an undeclared “war” on “terror” falls onto the military, not onto the creators of the policy, arguably brain-dead politicians, or those responsible for perpetuating this shameful institution, you and me.

    Meanwhile the military gets to shovel the real shit.

    • Scarabus

      I can’t really see it as being that clear a distinction. For example, ultimately, the civilian politicians make like Capt. Patrick Stewart: “I want X. Make it so.” The military as an institution then figures out how to do it, and finally does it (including shoveling the shit, for sure). Higher level military officers are politicians as much as warriors. Lower level officers, non-coms, and enlisted people might be enthusiastic about carrying out the mission … or they might resist, at best ending a career, at worst joining Bradley Manning. There was no honorable way into this, and there is no clean way out.

  • irishdave3

    GMO at GitMo is not torture, it’s …Enhanced Ingestion!

  • psychohistorian

    I used to hold out hope that there were levels of depravity that our country would not go to in my name.

    Will someone tell me the degree to which this behavior is better than Hitler and Nazi Germany?

    I weep for my country’s soul.

  • Ellievisions

    Sadly this is not actually a new strategy but a subtle development in an ongoing visual reframing of the site as ’safe, humane, legal, transparent’. Images like this have been in circulation for some time and much used to promote this message rather successfully to certain publics. The only thing potentially new is the ‘detainee as wasteful’ message. See for my short comment piece and links

  • Randall E. Winn

    Prisoners shall not be abused.
    The UCMJ requires soldiers to refuse orders to abuse prisoners. That this will certainly end their career is no excuse.
    Ultimately of course it is we civilians who put our military in this impossible situation and the result is as we now see: an epidemic of suicide and other mental illness among our troops and our veteran population.

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