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Hunger Strike at Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility Discussed; Policiing the Internet Examined

Aired May 1, 2013 - 15:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

Tonight, a life-and-death tug-of-war between President Barack Obama and more than 100 prisoners who would rather die than stay at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility forever. Defense lawyers tells as many as 130 are on hunger strike now; 23 and counting have lost so much weight that they are being force-fed.

Mr. Obama says that he is determined to keep them alive.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want these individuals to die. Obviously the Pentagon is trying to manage the situation as best as they can. But I think all of us should reflect on why exactly are we doing this.


AMANPOUR: Well, the president blames Congress for tying his hands and vows to go back at them to fulfill the very first promise he made in office, and that was to close Guantanamo Bay prison.


OBAMA: It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed.


AMANPOUR: But critics say that he could use his executive powers to at least order the release of 86 prisoners who've already been cleared for transfer. In the meantime, two have recently attempted suicide and dozens are choosing to starve themselves.

Extra medical staff have been flown down to Guantanamo to supervise what's called enteral or nasogastric tube feeding. It's forced feeding and prisoners say it is agonizingly painful.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): The process involves strapping patients to a chair, restraining them so they cannot move. This animation illustrates what happens next. A tube is fed through the nostril down to the throat and into the stomach. And a dietary supplement is fed through the tube. And the process of just one meal can last two hours.


AMANPOUR: This is what the U.S. military spokesman at Guantanamo told us about force feeding on Monday.


COLONEL GREG JULIAN, PUBLIC AFFAIRS CHIEF, U.S. SOUTHERN COMMAND: Well, this is the same procedure that's used in civilian hospitals for people that are in a condition where they're unable to eat normally. Our task force in Guantanamo is charged with the safe and humane care and custody of the detainees.


AMANPOUR: Now American courts have ruled that prison authorities may do this to preserve order.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): But the American Medical Association cites global ethical standards saying, quote, "Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming rational judgment concerning the consequences, he or she shall not be fed artificially."


AMANPOUR: And the United Nations agrees. So we'll take a closer look at the ethical and legal crisis at Guantanamo.

But first, here's what's coming up later in the program.



AMANPOUR (voice-over): New arrests in the Boston Marathon attacks, some say the bombers learned their craft online.

And we'll ask Google's Eric Schmidt: is the Internet a terrorist's best friend?

Then the next big thing in movies, so small you can't see it with the naked eye.



AMANPOUR: We'll get to that in a bit. But first, it's been nearly three months since the hunger strike began at Guantanamo Bay. Is it ethical for the U.S. government to force-feed detainees?

Arthur Caplan is a world-renowned bioethicist at New York University's Medical Center and he joins me now.

Professor, welcome.


AMANPOUR: So the doctor's code is "do no harm." Is it doing more harm to force-feed or is it doing more harm to let them die?

CAPLAN: Well, the doctor's code is "do no harm," and it's also respect the autonomy or the independence of the patient. The patient has a right to say no to all medical treatments. We've established that again and again and again in the U.S. Think about Terry Schiavo. Think about Karen Ann Quinlan.

These are cases that say you can stop feeding; you can stop giving water if the patient doesn't want it. These patients are prisoners, but they don't want it. So the balance is, I think, don't treat the when they say and don't disrespect their right to refuse.

AMANPOUR: So how do you sort of rationalize that with what the military spokesman told us, that this is what we do in American hospitals and that we're being humane?

CAPLAN: Well, it is something that happens in American hospitals, but it's on very sick people and it happens once. It doesn't happen every day that they feed again; the tube comes in; the tube comes out. You're not going through that process.

Even in a hospital with a very, very ill bedbound patient, they often try to pull the tube out; they don't like it. It's not comfortable. So let's not kid ourselves. This is artificial feeding. This is not getting a meal on the end of a spoon that you don't want, like a baby saying I don't want to eat any more. This is a tough, tough way to eat.

AMANPOUR: And the global ethical standards talk about a rational patient or, you know, somebody who can actually make the difference between, you know, whether they want to or not and understands the consequences.

Are you sure that the prisoners at Guantanamo can do that?

Do you think any of them are unconscious or so ill that they can't make that decision?

CAPLAN: Not yet. They could fall into that state. Right now, I think what we've got is not a suicide attempt, it's a political protest. And I know people want to describe it as this is them trying to kill themselves; we don't allow suicide.

I think it's a different situation. It's a statement by prisoners, goes all the way back to the Irish hunger strikers against the British, saying I don't -- I can't live in these conditions. I don't accept the terms of my sentence that I'm under here. This is inhumane to me. This is the only way I have to speak up.

AMANPOUR: Well, I wanted to mention that. You brought up the Irish IRA hunger strikes. And of course, Bobby Sands was the most famous. He starves himself to death in 1981; nine others do so afterwards before it's called off by the Catholic Church and others.

I want to ask you about something the president said, that being in Guantanamo is a recruitment tool.

But surely the IRA found that this was also a recruitment tool, this idea of, you know, the hunger strike and what Margaret Thatcher allowed at that time. Do you fear that this will actually backfire, that it will make it worse for the United States?

CAPLAN: I don't. Hstks are a tough thing to do. I know we're talking about dozens and dozens of people going on hunger strike, but most fall away. It's very difficult to stay on a hunger strike. I think the recruitment tools that are available out there, if you want to recruit people to the cause, this isn't it. I'm not worried too much about martyrdom.

What I am worried about is again and again going in there, saying we want to close this place. The prisoners understand and are trying to protest, and we're going to force feed them for conditions by that we're already saying are unacceptable.


I want to ask you more about the physical impact of what's happening to them. We described a little bit; we showed that animation.

Tell me what it's like. And these people are now being forcibly restrained.

CAPLAN: So I've had it. I've had it done to me, just because I wanted to know what it was like. So it --

AMANPOUR: Is it awful?

CAPLAN: I'd say it's pretty -- it's pretty rough. There's a difference between someone who's trying to comply and go along and someone who's bound to the chair and you're trying to get this tube in and down.

Then you've got to pour the solution down. These people are basically shackled and bound. They're not trying to accept the treatment. The more you struggle, the more you resist, the worse it is.

AMANPOUR: One of the lawyers that we -- who we've been talking to has got a client down there. And in a telephone call, heard the client say, the inmate, that, in fact, they're also trying to put bigger tubes down the throat, a 10 rather than an 8. I'm not sure exactly what that means --

CAPLAN: More nutrition --


CAPLAN: -- the size of the tube.

AMANPOUR: Show me how big it is.

CAPLAN: So you're probably talking about something like this, maybe a quarter.

AMANPOUR: OK. So the 10 is too big and induces vomiting. The 10 makes it hard to breathe. The entire body is tied down and the large tube is inserted.

CAPLAN: You feel that sensation like you're drowning as the stuff is poured down your throat. I don't want to say it's waterboarding, but it's certainly hugely uncomfortable. You can bring the food back up. If that happens, you're bound and gagged, now you're starting to aspirate, as we say, take into the lungs.

If you're not properly trained and you don't do this a lot, you're not very good at it, at -- the best people have a hard time doing it. But doing it day after day, really rough.

AMANPOUR: Well, tell me then, because clearly I guess in Guantanamo they're trying to prevent or protect the actual medical staff from actually doing it. It seems that they are not medical staff who are doing it, although boatloads have been sent down there now to supervise it. We're told now it's practically a one-on-one ratio of a medical staff to an inmate.

CAPLAN: So it looks like they have corpsmen, nurses, not actually doctors. I don't think they have enough doctors there to do most of this - -

AMANPOUR: But isn't it also protecting the ethics of a doctor?

CAPLAN: I wish it were. I doubt it is. I think it's just raw numbers. I think they need more bodies to do this. There aren't 100 doctors that they can round up to go do force feeding in this prison. They're taking nurses and corpsmen -- that is kind of physician assistants -- doing it that way. I'm not saying they're not skilled at it.

But again, it's not the best circumstance. I know there are viewers out there, thinking, I don't care if they hurt these prisoners. These are people that are, you know, terrorists. They're not people I worry about.

The point of principle is we don't want to see a principle established that the government can go around making you accept medical treatment that you don't want, even if you are a prisoner. It's a bright line.

That's why the American Medical Association, World Medical Association, all the international groups keep saying we can't compromise a person's right to say no to artificial feeding or any other medical treatment.

AMANPOUR: Professor Caplan, thank you very much indeed.

CAPLAN: My pleasure.

AMANPOUR: Also to mention, actually, a lot of them haven't even been charged with anything and not even getting a trial.

Professor, thanks for being here.

And before we take a break, a final look at Guantanamo.

These protesters in New York's Times Square last month were dressed like prisoners at Gitmo. They carried signs that said, "I died waiting." It's not just street theater. Seven detainees have died by apparent suicide since the prison opened in 2002.

And when we come back, Google's Eric Schmidt on technology's double- edged sword, a tool for finding terrorists or for creating new ones. We'll ask when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. And turning now to the Boston Marathon bombing investigation, today three more people were arrested in connection with the case. Two are from Kazakhstan and they are seen here in a Times Square visit with the suspect late last year.

The third is a U.S. citizen and all were classmates of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. They're accused of removing items, including a laptop and fireworks tubes with the gunpowder emptied out from Tsarnaev's dorm room and have lied to officials about Dzhokhar's whereabouts right after the bombing.

At this point officials are not saying that any of the three had a role in planning or carrying out the attack. And our Deb Feyerick is following the investigation.

Deb, welcome back. You're reading the complaint. What is it telling you?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it paints a very interesting portrait of what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was doing in the days immediately following the bomb, the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Things get really interesting on the Thursday when the FBI releases photographs of the two suspects.

Well, Dzhokhar, the 19-year old, gets a text from one of the friends that is now under arrest, basically saying, hey, you look an awful lot like the bomb suspect. Well, Dzhokhar initially responds back, laugh out loud - - "LOL" -- but then the text takes sort of an odd twist.

And in one, Dzhokhar says, you'd better not text me. In another he says, "Come by my room. Take whatever you want."

Well, the three friends decide to go to his room on that Thursday evening. They are told by Dzhokhar's roommate -- in fact, he's left a couple of hours earlier. They're sitting in the dorm room. They're watching a movie apparently.

And then one of the friends, who you see there, Dias Kadyrbayev, realizes that there's a black backpack containing empty firework canisters. And that's when he realized that perhaps his friend did have something to do with the bombing.

So the three friends decide to take the backpack, the fireworks and also Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's computer. They take all that with them, go to their apartment and that's when they get rid of all of those items. And in their words, they didn't want Tsarnaev to get into trouble.

Well, not only is he in trouble, but so are they; they're charged with conspiring to obstruct justice and also destroy potential evidence, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: And what about the social media page of at least one of those who's been arrested?

FEYERICK: Yes, and this is the young man, Dias Kadyrbayev, and he got onto the radar even before Tsarnaev was captured because of a couple of things.

First of all, at about 3 o'clock in the morning, he decides to take a photograph of himself and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev off of his Facebook page. And that's the photograph that he removes at 3 o'clock in the morning. A couple of hours later, both he and Dzhokhar change their Facebook photograph within 15 minutes of one another.

And so whether they were talking to each other, communicating by text, all of that is under investigation. The police really picked him up very quickly, even before Dzhokhar was captured and they questioned him; they let him go, then they picked him up again and continued questioning him again.

You know, also there's some information that he was driving a black BMW. We've seen a picture, and the license apparently says, terrorista 1, terrorist 1. So maybe a coincidence, but clearly that does not work in his favor, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Clearly not, Deb. Thank you very much indeed.

And as the Boston investigation deepens, an important question is raised. Is the Internet a terrorist's most dangerous weapon?

Despite today's arrest, the Brothers Tsarnaev seem to have planned the attacks themselves without a support organization, although they are continuing investigations into actually whether there was one back in Russia.

The younger surviving brother has reportedly told authorities that he and his older brother used the Internet to learn how to build a bomb. The Internet as terrorist tool? Is it avoidable? Policeable? Preventable?

I can think of no better person to ask than Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, the Internet titan and forum for so much of our information sharing. Schmidt has just written a new book about the promises and the perils of this medium. It's called "The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business."

He joins me now with Jared Cohen, who is his coauthor and who, as a former State Department advisor on digital diplomacy, is now what sounds like also, now you have a fascinating new title, which is director of Google Ideas.

Gentlemen, thank you very much for joining me. I know that you are on book tour; you've talked a lot about a lot of aspects of your book and it is all fascinating.

But in light of what's happened, I really do need to ask you: is there any way for something as powerful as YouTube, as this whole Google empire, to actually police what's going on?

You know, the day after the bombings, all we did was go online. We went to YouTube; we went to the, you know, Russian equivalent of Facebook. And we saw on YouTube, you know, a terrorist playlist -- it said that.

ERIC SCHMIDT, CEO, GOOGLE: So in this particular case we saw an almost perfect collaboration between the police and citizenry that ultimately found these two people and perhaps some others. You had over and over again crowd sourcing, people trying to figure out who these people were. You had a whole community on Reddit and others that eventually found the right people.

And based on the story that you reported today, it looks to me like they got pretty spooked at that. When you've got a million people looking at you on a social network, you're going to be found.

Furthermore, these two -- these two men obviously did not understand that the Internet does not have a delete button for stuff that you're trying to hide. And in this particular case, these gentlemen tried to alter their presence knowing full well, I guess, that somebody would eventually refer (ph) to data.


AMANPOUR: You're talking about the crowd sourcing and of course, Reddit is, in fact, been taken to task for sort of like online vigilantism and, in fact, for putting out the wrong suspects and the wrong ideas.

But I guess what I want to really ask you is not that, yes, one can find it after the fact as we did going online.

But what about before the fact? The FBI had this guy in some way or another, Tamerlan, under some kind of surveillance. He wasn't on their watch in the end, but he was on the CIA watch list.

Why would they not look at their YouTube page or look at what they're doing on Facebook?

First of all, why would they not?

You're in the State Department. You had to deal with this kind of stuff.

JARED COHEN, DIRECTOR, GOOGLE IDEAS: Well, I think our conclusion about terrorism in the future is that, you know, future terrorists are going to have to opt in to technology if they want to be relevant.

And so by then, using social media, by then accessing the Internet with tremendous frequency, by putting their social networks online, the room for error goes up significantly. Any professional mistake, any social mistake and they increase the likelihood that the whole plot comes unraveled. And then it become easy to get the SIM card and see who's working with them.

SCHMIDT: So the idea would be that the police would unravel this evil act ahead of time.

AMANPOUR: Yes, ahead of time.

SCHMIDT: And also when they get it ahead of time, they'd see all the people these people are talking to and so forth. I think the Internet makes it much easier to foil these plots. And of course, we've always had the problem of terrorism. Now we can see it happen.

AMANPOUR: But Eric and Jared, you know, yes. And in my view, there was evidence online. My question is why didn't law enforcement make that connection before this attack and what is your responsibility as a titan of this industry to actually somehow have some kind of algorithm or whatever you want to call it that tips these people off, tips off law enforcement?

SCHMIDT: If there were an algorithm to detect terrorists, trust me; we would use it.


SCHMIDT: The fact of the matter is that Google's policy is that if you upload stuff and if somebody notices it, we will take harmful stuff down. And we've done that for a long time. I think in this particular case, the police should say where -- what clues they had. It's obvious that a pattern in hindsight existed.

But how many other cases were they looking at?

How hard was it?

We can use technology to make them more effective. Right? And they can build better systems that will allow them to look at these things more quickly. And I think overall we'll be able to police this better because people do let their signs out ahead of time of their evil acts.

AMANPOUR: So do you think in this regard, then, that it is time -- you said overall, you know, in the end we should be able to police this better.

Do you think it's inevitable then that -- and Google owns YouTube -- do you think it's inevitable that there has to be a closer cooperation, as awful as it sounds, on issues of privacy? And we don't want to live in a police state.

But when there are obvious signs, do you think that, you know, your tools have a responsibility to prevent this?

COHEN: I think everybody has -- everybody has a responsibility. The big change in the future, if you think about the old model of people being radicalized and religious madrassas, if you think about back alley gathering grounds and training camps, in the future there's going to be no hidden people.

And so the absence of hidden people means that you're still going to have young terrorists. They're just going to be online and young people just have consistently made mistakes throughout history in their lives. That's not going to change.

And with each incident in which we identify ways that people are using the Internet to radicalize, using the Internet to plan attacks, the awareness of law enforcement and those seeking to stop people from doing evil deeds goes up. So over time, we will get better this. And when I say we, I mean everybody, citizens, companies, law enforcement, et cetera.

AMANPOUR: Tell me about what you call, I think, dictator for a day in your book. You sort of describe this -- dictator's dilemma. You describe this, you know, dictator's dilemma. What is it? Tell me.

SCHMIDT: Well, of course, everybody's online and (inaudible) countries coming online the next 5 billion are coming online in authorization or dictatorship type of countries. And so here you are; you've got this new thing on the Internet come in.

And all of a sudden, you have dissent.

What do you do about it if you're a dictator?

Do you decide it's actually a threat to the regime?

Do you decide that it's not going to be a threat?

You can't tell. We love the idea of giving dictators hard problems to solve, because we don't think they're going to solve them very well.

COHEN: And take a country like Iran, right, you know, certainly a dictatorship that brutalizes its people.

Seventy-two million people, 25 percent today are connected to the Internet. In the future, when everybody in Iran is connected, yes, there will still be 72 million people living in the physical world. But the country will look like 500 million people online. And that creates a lot of noise, a lot of activity. And the regime will have a hard time distinguishing between what's real and what's noise.

SCHMIDT: And people use different accounts for different things. And you can't quite tell. Are these guys going to wage another revolution or not? How do we deal with them? They've got to open up their society as a result, and that's got to be good for (inaudible).


AMANPOUR: You just caused quite a splash by going to Pyongyang and also to Myanmar. What did you find -- two dictatorships; obviously Myanmar's opening up.

What did you find the difference in terms of Internet and knowledge?

SCHMIDT: Well, North Korea has made an explicit decision not to allow its citizens any Internet access and, frankly, information access at all. So if they were to simply turn on the data service to their million phones or so forth, all of a sudden we'd have a wedge of information into that country.

And the citizens could see that they're not well served by the current structure. They literally just came through a famine; they're not growing, et cetera, et cetera, don't have any freedoms at all. In Burma, Myanmar, the government appears to have made a decision to open up and now you're beginning to see real press freedoms and it's a wonderful thing.

AMANPOUR: I'm obsessed by the connection between the Tsarnaev Brothers and what they had on their YouTube page and on their Russian sort of Facebook. And I want to quote from your book, actually from a -- from "The New York Times" review.

"Picture this rosy scenario for your high-tech future: you awaken because your curtains open automatically, your coffee maker starts brewing and your bed administers a subtle hint in the form of a back massage. Your closet, having scanned your calendar, coughs up a freshly cleaned suit for the big meeting today."

So that's a brave new world, where it knows everything. Again, why didn't it put together the warning that this person who was under FBI surveillance was doing this on YouTube at the same time?

SCHMIDT: It's perfectly possible that the systems are not interconnected. We saw that at 9/11 and people began to interconnect them. There's all sorts of examples. But in fairness to the authorities, there are so many sort of suspects before anything, you know, this person appears to be crazy; they're behaving crazily but they've never done anything wrong.

This person's on a watch list but there's 100,000 people on a watch list. It's very hard to determine that this one is going to be the one to do (inaudible).


AMANPOUR: Do you think you all have a responsibility to tell them and take this stuff down?

SCHMIDT: We have chosen -- and under American law it's a requirement -- to react to these things. So we don't have a way of telling yet. And we haven't invented one. We do know that if people report bad information, we will take it off.

AMANPOUR: Jared Cohen, Eric Schmidt, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

SCHMIDT: Thank you.

COHEN: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And we'll be back with a final thought after a break.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, we just discussed the risks and responsibilities in this ever-expanding digital age. But imagine a world where technology can also create the next big thing in movies. And when we say big, we mean really small.

Scientists at IBM have just released what the "Guinness Book of World Records" calls the world's smallest movie, whimsically titled, "A Boy and His Atom." It runs about one minute. But it's not just a short; it's infinitesimal.

Instead of A-list actors, it employs tiny atoms, viewed through a special microscope. And while magnetism matters in any romantic chick flick or any romantic love story, it's essential here, a magnet moves the atoms about to create the cartoon. Take a look.



AMANPOUR: Now IBM says the movie is meant to show students that science can be fun. And that's a wrap for us. Meantime, you can always contact us on our website, Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.