In the video that went viral, the rapper recoiled from the tube and wouldnt let a British doctor snake it up his nose. He resisted. He wriggled free of his restraints. He sobbed in a stunt a Navy nurse who goes by Ensign Lodowick called ridiculous.
The video is the opposite of everything that goes on here, said Lodowick, 30, who spends his nights offering captives designated for nutritional supplements a choice drink a bottle of Ensure, or take it through a tube inserted in their nose to their stomach.
Its not that painful. Its not that excruciating, he said Thursday evening on his way to a night shift at the prison where, for Islams daylight fasting during Ramadan, the prison staff adopted an after-dark feeding routine.
Theyre not begging for you to stop, a 23-year-old corpsman named Hannah chimed in.
To be sure, the troops say some of the hunger-striking prisoners become furious when women among the medical corps administer the so-called e-feeds, short for enteral feedings. In one often repeated account, a captive slipped out of his restraints and slugged a nurse. The nurse was not made available for an interview.
A night shift nurse named Candice, a 32-year-old Navy lieutenant, said she has been spit on, cursed at and threatened with such angry prisoner glares that I feel my soul is being sucked out while working at the prison.
But in her experience by the time the guards have the detainees settled in the restraint chair they cooperate and guide, as she put it, wriggling their heads to help the tube find its way to their stomach.
For the most part its good patient interaction, she said.
This week, the military would only permit journalists here to report during Ramadan a brief afternoon glimpse of a dozen or so prisoners of Echo Block standing hip to hip then kneeling together in prayer, a privilege the military says theyre granted so long as they abandon their hunger strike.
The medical corps has mostly shunned reporters requests for interviews, leaving explanations about the hunger strike and forced-feedings to a staged stop on a hospital tour where a nameless officer cheerily explains the procedure for cameras required to film him from the neck down.
This week, for the first time, nurses and corpsmen volunteered to be interviewed and did so inside an unused surgical ward not far from a poster that warned medical troops to think about security before they blog, tweet or post on Facebook. Each of them had seen the Mos Def video despite having to endure slow and balky Internet access to do so.
Army Sgt. Lasima Packett, on temporary duty here with an Indiana National Guard public affairs team, said the video was a disappointment and her respect for the rapper diminished.
Navy Capt. Robert Durand, the public affairs officer who has been defending the honor of the detention center throughout the hunger strike, drew a distinction.
I disagree with his portrayal and his performance, he said, but I still like him as an actor and musician.