Guantánamo

Nursing group honors Navy nurse who wouldn’t force-feed at Guantánamo

This screengrab from a Guantánamo public affairs handout video shows the chair used to strap in and force-feed hunger-striking detainees at Guantánamo. It is in this instance parked inside a cell at the Behavioral Health Unit, the military’s name for the prison’s psychiatric ward.
This screengrab from a Guantánamo public affairs handout video shows the chair used to strap in and force-feed hunger-striking detainees at Guantánamo. It is in this instance parked inside a cell at the Behavioral Health Unit, the military’s name for the prison’s psychiatric ward. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

A leading American nursing organization is conferring an ethics award on a career Navy nurse who refused to force-feed hunger strikers last summer, even as, his attorney says, he is at risk of having his career cut short by the episode.

The New England-based nurse, a lieutenant, has never been identified. He was excused from service here, and at one point considered for court martial, for refusing to tube-feed a Syrian captive, Abu Wa’el Dhiab. Dhiab, since resettled in Uruguay, was at the time suing the Pentagon to stop the forced feedings.

Now the American Nurses Association says the unnamed nurse will receive a “Year of Ethics” award — for putting his patient ahead of prison camp practice — at ceremonies Thursday in Washington, D.C.

The nurse, who wants to serve until retirement with full benefits in December 2016, has declined to be publicly identified. So, in his place, his attorney Ronald Meister will collect the glass trophy on the nurse’s behalf at the association’s annual meeting. The organization has never given this award before.

Meister said separately that, while the Navy has chosen to take no action against the nurse, the Department of Defense recently notified the naval officer that it planned “to revoke his security clearance, and possibly place him once again in jeopardy of being discharged” in light of the episode. An earlier discharge could put the nurse’s 20-year benefits at risk.

Meister called the move “mean spirited,” and said “we intend to continue a vigorous defense.”

Pentagon and Navy spokesmen had no immediate comment.

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