My guess is that the Gitmo hunger strike has reached such a crisis point that the military felt it couldn’t show it but couldn’t not show it. The effect of that conflict appears to have led to these very clinical photos, the antiseptic quality inviting the mind to run wild.
Although photos from Gitmo have typically excluded the prisoners themselves, not seeing them and knowing they are wasting away makes their absence here that much more palpable. (I think the CYA-minded Pentagon really believes these pictures are informational when they’re not, they’re documentary.) Scenes of olives being delivered that will never be eaten, or full Styrofoam containers getting chucked in the trash, or bottles of Ensure on patient trays next to surgical tubes (to make sure you don’t die on us while the world is watching) can’t help but prompt us to see the prisoners in our own minds (or even imagine we’re getting the treatment).
While the government and the military pretend these photos maintain an adequate level of abstraction, however, to me they do the opposite. In waging a war of wills at the most primitive level, these photos, if highly institutional, somehow take me back to Abu Ghraib. Torturing a man for information, or out of sadism or to keep him alive, is still torture. And as for breaking the will, well, martyrdom is martyrdom, whether it’s by jetliner or by leaving us with rotting containers full of bananas.
See a larger set of images at MoJo.
(photos: Army Sgt. Brian Godette. caption 1: Guard Force soldier discards breakfast delivered earlier in the morning which was refused by detainees in Camps V and VI , Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, April 10, 2013. caption 2 & 3: Feeding chair and internal nourishment preparation inside the Joint Medical Group where the detainees receive medical care, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, April 10, 2013.)