Obama appeals order to publish Guantanamo force-feeding tapes
December 2, 2014
The Obama administration has today appealed against a federal judge’s ruling that videotapes showing force-feeding of a Guantanamo prisoner should be released.
The ruling, made by Judge Gladys Kessler in October this year, was the first of its kind and came after sixteen major US media organizations, including the New York Times, AP, and McClatchy newspapers, asked for the tapes to be made public under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
The tapes show the force-feeding and ‘forcible cell extraction’ of Abu Wa’el Dhiab, who has long been cleared for release. Mr Dhiab is represented by international human rights NGO Reprieve. Reprieve lawyers are virtually the only people outside government to have seen the footage and have described it as ‘disturbing’, but are forbidden under classification rules from revealing its contents.
Cori Crider, a director at Reprieve and Mr Dhiab’s attorney, said: “President Obama promised us the most transparent administration in history – at this point is that promise anything other than a joke? You have to ask who actually watched this footage when making the decision to hide this evidence from the American people. It boggles the mind that the same President who makes speeches asking whether force-feeding is ‘who we are’ can ask a Court, with a straight face, to hide the reality of force-feeding from the press and public.”
“The tapes are a national scandal – but the best approach is to rip off the Band-Aid, confess the mistake, and fix the abuse going on at the base. Obama made the wrong call today, but Reprieve will keep fighting to get the truth in these videotapes out. We believe Americans can handle the truth. They have the right to see the tapes.”
Notes to editors
2. The US Government’s brief is available here.