Last night, as I was driving to my job to work the graveyard shift, I heard a piece on the growing hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. 84 out of the 166 detainees are involved in this hunger strike. The fact that many of the detainees have not been charged with any crimes, and are trapped in a Kafka-esque judicial limbo. Some of them were turned over to the U.S. authorities for bounties or in the pursuit of vendettas. The official narrative is that these detainees are too dangerous to release, but not guilty enough to try.
Hunger strikes are an effective way for the powerless to gain a sort of moral force over their captors. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the hunger strike of Bobby Sands, who attained the romantic status of a journalist and poet while in prison. Sands actually ended up winning a newly vacated seat in the House of Commons shortly before he died of starvation. He subsequently became a celebrated icon of anti-colonialism, to the extent that the Iranians named a street (formerly named after Winston Churchill) after him. The fact that the Guantanamo Bay prisoners are engaged in a hunger strike further erodes the United States' reputation as a moral actor.
Of course, the real question is whether the detainees should be tried or released. This legal limbo that they inhabit is potentially injurious to the rights of all of us, citizen or no. Personally, I think they should be moved to another facility, a sort of halfway house where they could be monitored under less onerous circumstances, then judged rehabilitated or not. Today marked the opening of the George Bush Presidential Library in Texas. Personally, I think all of the "Gitmo" detainees should be moved to dormitory rooms in the library.
What more fitting monument to the George W. Bush legacy could there be than a "library" filled with gaunt, broken reminders of Dubya's utter failure of a foreign policy?