This naturally raises the question: Does the U.S. legal system no longer recognize an individual's right to refuse invasive medical treatment? Or is there simply an exception for when their death would be embarrassing to the administration? After all, there are surely much clearer and stronger reasons for paternalistic intervention in ordinary cases of, e.g., patients refusing life-saving blood transfusions on religious grounds. Or is a blood transfusion more invasive than violently shoving a feeding tube up a captive's nose and down his throat? Perhaps it's thought that the captive has "more to lose" -- his life of confinement without trial in this famous military resort being so much more desirable than the future that your average Jehovah's Witness could ever hope for? One wonders.
Obama has said, “I don’t want these individuals to die.” Does he think that his wishes about what happens to other individuals supersedes their own autonomy and bodily integrity? If he decides he does not want a fetus to die, will he (direct his underlings to) prohibit women from having abortions? (That's not to say, of course, that those who support a legal prohibition on abortion should be okay with force-feeding! After all, it's much easier to justify overriding individual autonomy and bodily integrity for the sake of an innocent other, than to do so paternalistically for the individual's own sake. So one could be conventionally "pro-life" whilst nonetheless respecting individual rights to refuse treatment on their own behalf. But it's a truly bizarre "pro-choice" view that holds that bodily integrity only allows individuals to control their own bodies when doing so amounts to killing another, and not when it is a matter of letting themselves die!)
Force-feeding captives thus strikes me as completely indefensible (though I'm open to counterarguments if you have one to offer). A more ethically fraught question is whether captives/prisoners should be allowed to actively kill themselves -- whether in protest of poor treatment, or as straightforward escapism from a life that they judge to be worse than death. I'm inclined to think it would be better to allow this, at least if all such suicides then led to heightened scrutiny of the institution, and hence potential remedies for any severe problems that would otherwise continued unabated.
What do you think?