The Gut-Wrenching Times Op-Ed a Gitmo Prisoner Dictated Over the PhoneS

There's a first-time op-ed writer on today's New York Times Opinion Pages. His name is Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, and this is his first published op-ed because he's a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, and can only "write" by dictating to his lawyers, through a translator, over the phone. "I've been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months," he writes. "I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial. I could have been home years ago—no one seriously thinks I am a threat—but still I am here." Moqbel, like many of his fellow detainees—between 40 and 60, depending on who's counting—is undertaking a hunger strike to protest his detention; in the editorial, he describes his twice-daily force-feedings: "I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I'm sleeping." This weekend, after the Red Cross had left and during a media blackout, prisoners and military guards clashed as the authorities attempted to end the protest by moving prisoners from the communal blocks into individual cells—a step back toward the Bush administration's maximum security-style detention policies. The protests were sparked by what prisoners described as mistreatment of their Qurans during searches, but Moqbel writes that its aims are broad: "I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late." [NYT | Miami Herald]