A trend since 9/11 has been the remarkable increase in the depiction of of torture and the over-use of violence by the authorities in movies. Admittedly, there was considerable uproar over the torture scenes at the beginning of Zero Dark Thirty, which also depicted it as extracting useful intelligence when virtually all experts say it’s unproductive (people will say anything, true or not, to stop the pain). But even as only an occasional movie goer, I’ve seen some previews and ads that were stunning. One a few years back was a recruiting ad which made combat look like a music video (pumped up men, hip music, action that looked close to choreographed). It elicited hisses from the NYC audience. The action movies show more graphic beatings than they used to. And a few months ago, I saw a preview for a kiddie movie, Despicables 2, in which one of the protagonists repeatedly zapped other characters with a lipstick taser. And yes, they writhed a lot.
It’s important to see what all this Hollywood special effects, melodrama, and glamorization masks. The Guardian’s must-see video of the second Snowden interview may have served to distract attention from another important video they released on Monday. 106 prisoners are on hunger strike at Gitmo, and 44 are being force-fed. To add to the abusiveness, there are apparently not enough staff for the barbaric practice to be inflicted on the detainees before sunrise and after sunset during Ramadan, which is about to start. From emergency motion filed last week on behalf of four detainees (hat tip Marcy Wheeler):
Petitioners’ force-feeding also violates medical ethics and is inhumane. For that reason, too, it serves no legitimate penological interest. The only theory advanced to justify petitioners’ detention is that, more than a decade ago, they were enemy belligerents. Their detention, it is said, is necessary to ward off some putative “return” to the battlefield. They dispute that claim, but even if one accepts it, a noncriminal enemy belligerent is still entitled, under the Geneva Conventions and basic standards of human decency, to be treated honorably and humanely. Being strapped to a chair and having a tube forcibly inserted through one’s nostrils and into one’s stomach is dishonorable and degrading. It falls within the ambit of torture or other forms of inhumane treatment. In the long history of American detention of the enemy, bodily invasions of this character have never been the routine business of the prisoner of war camp.
Marcy Wheeler reported that the judge, as she had predicted, turned down the request for lack of jurisdiction but still condemned the practice and pointed out that Obama has the authority to end it.
The Guardian presented this video by Human Rights organisation Reprieve and Bafta award-winning director Asif Kapadia, US actor and rapper Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), which is based on leaked military documents describing the standard operating procedures for these force-feedings.
This is not for the squeemish, but I strongly urge you to watch it.