Gitmo force-feeding videos released to court

The US government, on order from federal judge Gladys Kessler, has released eight redacted videos showing forced feedings at Guantánamo Bay prison. The videos, released to the US District Court for the District of Columbia as part of former prisoner Abu Wa'el Dhiab's suit against the federal government, depict tube-feeding conducted by medical and security personnel. Although the exact details are unknown, the videos are thought to show Dhiab being fed through a tube in his nose while in a restraining chair. Dhiab initially filed suit challenging his 12-year detention at Guantánamo, during which he was never charged, and has since alleged that the forced feedings were punitive rather than life-sustaining measures. Thus far, only eight of the 32 existing force-feeding videos have been provided, and those were released after being censored for anything used to identify those involved. Next month, lawyers for each side are expected to discuss releasing the remaining videos.

Real Adm. Richard Butler objected to release of the tapes, stating that it "would facilitate the enemy's ability to conduct information operations and could be used to increase anti-American sentiment, thereby placing the lives of US service members at risk." In response, Cori Crider, one of Dhiab's attorneys, stated:

[i]f the American people could see the force-feeding tapes I've watched, they would understand that abuse in Guantánamo is not just in the 'bad old days' of the past, but continues right up to the present…. [A]nd where does the logic of censorship end? Suppressing the Eric Garner footage? The Rodney King tapes? The Abu Ghraib photos? Guantanamo's continued existence is one of the biggest recruiting sergeants of them all.

In July 2013 four Guantánamo prisoners, including Dhiab, filed a motion in federal court requesting the judiciary put an end to forced-feeding as a response to hunger strikes. Later that month Kessler determined that the district court lacked jurisdiction to address the issue. In May 2014 Kessler ordered an end to Dhiab's force feeding while still refusing to rule on the practice as a whole. Kessler finally ordered the force-feeding videos released in October 2014. Later that month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion to stay the order, which was subsequently denied. The renewed controversy surrounding Guantánamo Bay comes on the heels of the president's announcement that he is still is considering a "wide array" of options for closing the military prison.

From Jurist, Sept. 15. Used with permission.