Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Donald, Donald, Donald. Out, Out, Out.

A follow up to our post about the Gitmo hunger strikers. Here's the transcript of a Pentagon news conference on Tuesday where this issue came up. We listened to the news conference live and the text doesn't do justice to Rumsfeld's cavalier attitude to the problems at Gitmo, but it's a start:

Q Can I follow up? Do you approve of the forced feeding of detainees who are on hunger strikes?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I guess -- I'm not a doctor and I'm not the kind of a person who would be in a position to approve or disapprove. It seems to me, looking at it from this distance, is that the responsible people are the combatant commanders and the Army as the executive agent for detainees. They make -- have expert medical people who make decisions of that type.

And they've made a decision that they think it's appropriate for them to provide nourishment to people who, for whatever reason, at various points in their detention decide they want to not provide normal nourishment to themselves.

There are a number of things that one can glean from the way it's being done. I don't think there's a serious risk of people -- well, I shouldn't say that, I'm not in a position to know that.

But there are a number of people who go on a diet where they don't eat for a period and then go off of it at some point, and then they rotate and other people do that. So it's clearly a technique to try to get the attention of you folks, and they're successful. Yes?

Q One difference between the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] and the [UN] rapporteurs is that the ICRC operates under confidentiality arrangement, whereas the rapporteurs are going to make their findings public. Is that what the government or the department is concerned about? Is that the reason they're trying to --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Not at all. The ICRC does it for a very obvious reason. They do it because that's the only way they can be assured that they're going to have access to countries around the world. And there's a very good reason for the ICRC policy. Obviously, the other people seem not to find that reason valid. But I'm not involved in the decision. That is a decision that the government of the United States has got to address because it's a precedent that applies across the government.

Q Mr. Secretary?
SEC. RUMSFELD: You have new glasses.

Q Just for reading. You know, I'm getting older. (Laughter.) (Off mike.)

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