U.S. now calls Guantánamo hunger strike ‘long term non-religious fasting’

WASHINGTON -- The Guantánamo Bay prison has adopted a new forced-feeding policy that rhetorically recasts the year-long hunger strike in the remote prison camps as “long term non-religious fasting.”

The Pentagon disclosed the rebranding effort Tuesday with the release of a 24-page how-to document developed by the prison camps in December. It blacks out specifics that apparently define how much weight loss and how many missed meals qualify a hunger-striking captive for the prison's twice-daily tube feedings.

In it, the U.S. military at Guantánamo appears to be distinguishing between bona fide Muslim fasts and the protest that started more than a year ago and, at its height, drew the participation of more than 100 prisoners.

The document is called “Medical Management of Detainees with Weight Loss,” and replaced a guide written in March 2013 called “Medical Management of Detainees on Hunger Strike.”

Some prison spokesmen have argued that the captives were manipulating their weight loss to qualify as hunger strikers — and to focus attention on their indefinite detention at the prison. About half of Guantánamo’s 155 prisoners are approved for release once the Obama administration reaches resettlement or repatriation agreements with nations that agree to take them.

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