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In today's pages: A Gitmo lawyer speaks

October 5, 2007 |  8:26 am

Clive Stafford Smith, a lawyer for Guantanamo detainees, is surprised by how routine mistreatment has become:

I had a morning meeting scheduled with Sami Haj, the Al Jazeera journalist, no more a terrorist than my grandmother.... On the fifth anniversary of his detention without trial, his patience wore thin and he went on a hunger strike, the age-old peaceful protest against injustice....

Sami's strike began 271 days ago. Medical ethics tell us that you cannot force-feed a mentally competent hunger striker, as he has the right to complain about his mistreatment, even unto death. But the Pentagon knows that a prisoner starving himself to death would be abysmal PR, so they force-feed Sami. As if that were not enough, when Gen. Bantz J. Craddock headed up the U.S. Southern Command, he announced that soldiers had started making hunger strikes less "convenient." Rather than leave a feeding tube in place, they insert and remove it twice a day. Have you ever pushed a 43-inch tube up your nostril and down into your throat? Tonight, Sami will suffer that for the 479th time.

Columnist Joel Stein considers a world turned upside down by global warming, making Ed Begley cool. Columnist Rosa Brooks congratulates the Bush Administration for finally discovering that diplomacy works. Contributing editor Bill Stall discusses the state's great unknown water giveaway.

The editorial board laments Vladimir Putin's intent to make himself prime minister of Russia, and notes that the iPhone's first upgrade rendered some devices into useless "iBricks". Finally, the board expresses dismay at arrest contests in the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

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