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Hunger Striking for Osama

05.31.2006 07:40 | DISPATCHES

Churchill was right: Gandhi was a terrorist.

At least he was according to the logic of Navy Commander Robert Durand, who has the oxymoronic job title of Gitmo PR chief. In response to the latest spate of attempted suicides and hunger strikes at the camp, Durand told reporters, "The hunger strike technique is consistent with Al Qaeda practice."
Now that Durand mentions it, I do remember something about Osama bin Laden refusing to eat until the U.S. pulls its troops out of the Gulf. How do you think he got so skinny? And, yes, I do recall Ayman Al-Zawahiri speaking to reporters from his bed in Kabul, explaining in a weak voice his refusal to eat until Leonard Peltier was freed.

"My followers are begging me to eat a Pop Tart," Zawahiri told Al Jazeera, "but I will persist until justice is served."

And isn't it in the 9/11 Commission Report that plans for 9/11 attack were hatched during a failed four-day hunger-strike in Mohammad Atta's Hamburg dorm room? Atta got the idea from his good friend, Julie Butterfly Hill, whom he met during a 57-day tree-sitting protest in California's Redwood forest.

The fact that hunger striking is such a tried and tested Al Qaeda tactic must be how we know there are in fact Al Qaeda members at Gitmo. Because we sure don't seem to have much other evidence. We know from grudging official admissions and the investigative work of reporters like David Rose that most of those being held at Gitmo were picked up in blind sweeps, or sold to U.S. soldiers by Afghan bounty hunters of dubious credibility.

Even after four years of living in the western hemisphere's most notorious "legal black hole," Rear Adm. Harry Harris last week admitted to the Washington Post that there are likely prisoners at Gitmo who have yet to be interrogated.

That statement upset some people, but it shouldn't have. Why waste precious military-intel resources investigating or proving guilt when you can just wait for the terrorists to show their stripes by refusing to eat?


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