WASHINGTON -- Two Senate Democrats are urging President Barack Obama to end force-feeding at Guantanamo Bay.
"We ... encourage you to direct the Department of Defense to stop conducting such large-scale force-feedings and, where force-feeding is medically necessary to save a detainee's life, to observe the protections required at U.S. Bureau of Prisons facilities," Sens. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Dick Durbin (Ill.) wrote in a letter to Obama. "It is our understanding that the U.S. federal prison guidelines for force-feedings include several safeguards and oversight mechanisms that are not in place at Guantanamo Bay."
Feinstein visited Guantanamo with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) earlier this year. She has previously been critical of the force-feeding procedures, which began on a larger scale after a hunger strike began in February.
As of Wednesday, military officials said that 106 low-value detainees were being tracked as hunger strikers, and 45 were on the "enteral feed," or force-feeding, list. Military officials claim many of the detainees will choose to drink a supplement or eat a meal rather than have a tube snaked down their nose and into their stomach.
Some detainees in Guantanamo's Camp Six have been allowed to return to communal living following a lockdown that began after a raid in mid-April.
Feinstein and Durbin said that "the fact that many detainees have remained in legal limbo for more than a decade and have given up hope" was to blame for the hunger strikes. The letter also noted that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has yet to respond to a letter Feinstein sent him last month.
"This should be alarming to all of us, and it is imperative that the Administration outline a formal process to permanently close the Guantanamo facility as soon as possible," they wrote. "We look forward to continue working with you to achieve that end.”
Read the full letter below.