[JURIST] The US government, on order from federal judge Gladys Kessler [professional profile], has released eight redacted videos showing forced feedings at Guantanamo Bay prison. The videos, released to the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] 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 Guantanamo, during which he was never charged, and has since alleged 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. On the video release, real admiral Richard Butler [Navy profile] stated, “[releasing the tapes] 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 [professional profile], 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 Guantanamo prisoners, including Dhiab, filed a motion [JURIST report] in federal court requesting the judiciary put an end to forced-feeding as a response to hunger strikes. Later that month Kessler determined [JURIST report] that the district court lacked jurisdiction to address the issue. In May 2014 Kessler ordered [JURIST report] an end to Dhiab’s force feeding while still refusing to rule on the practice as a whole. Kessler then ordered [JURIST report] the force-feeding videos released in October 2014, stating, “it is our responsibility, as judges, as part of our obligation under the Constitution, to ensure that any efforts to limit our First Amendment protections are scrutinized with the greatest of care. That responsibility cannot be ignored or abdicated.” Later that month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed [JURIST report] a motion to stay the order, which was subsequently denied. The renewed controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay comes on the heels of the president’s announcement [JURIST report] that he is still is considering a “wide array” of options for closing the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.