04/15/2013 08:21 am ET | Updated Jun 15, 2013

NYT Gitmo Op-Ed Draws Swift Reaction: 'Deeply Disturbing,' 'Eye-Opening'

The op-ed by a detainee at Guantanamo Bay published in the New York Times on Monday set off a wave of reaction.

Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel--who said he has been detained at the prison for over 11 years without a trial or even a criminal trial--wrote a gruesome account of his experience as a hunger striker there:

Last month, on March 15, I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.

I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can't describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn't. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.

The op-ed was accompanied by a harrowing illustration.

The Times has published op-ed pieces written by former detainees at Guantanamo, but the voices of detainees currently held there rarely break through. The reaction was swift, with some seemingly as astonished by the mere fact of the op-ed's existence as by Moqbel's account. It spoke to the continuing ability of the Times to influence political conversation.

"This is eye-opening," the actor Mark Ruffalo tweeted.

"Deeply disturbing," the Washington Post's Gene Weingarten wrote.

"Kudos to the NYT for publishing one of the most powerful Op-Eds ever," the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald--no friend of the paper--added.

Carol Rosenberg, who has been covering Guantanamo for over a decade, unearthed a picture of Moqbel, which she said had been released by WikiLeaks.

Ari Fleischer, the former spokesman for George W. Bush, had a more dismissive attitude to the op-ed:


Obama's Guantanamo Bay