The Quiet Hero of Guantánamo

In 2014, a career U.S. Navy nurse took an unprecedented stand: he refused to force-feed prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay on the grounds that it violated the ethical standards of his profession. When the Navy tried to punish the nurse by filing criminal charges, Physicians for Human Rights launched a sustained, high-profile campaign in his defense, rallying the American Nurses Association, the American Medical Association (AMA), and others.

The Navy dropped the charges, but the nurse’s ordeal was far from over as he still faced possible discharge and loss of retirement and veterans benefits. So PHR and the AMA mobilized a lengthy campaign to reinstate the Navy nurse, who had served with honor for nearly 20 years.

The campaign was a success. Restoring his security clearance was the final hurdle to return the Navy nurse to his full duties. In 2016, two years after this brave medical officer took a stand against torture, he retired from the military with full honors and continues to work as a nurse in his civilian life.

PHR is proud to have supported the nurse in his refusal to participate in the illegal and unethical harming and degrading of another human being. We continue to push for an end to the abusive practice of force-feeding of detainees at Guantánamo Bay prison. And we continue to advocate on behalf of health professionals everywhere when they are attacked for refusing to compromise the highest ethical standards of their professions.

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