Obama administration moves to block release of Guantanamo force feeding tapes
July 23, 2015
The Obama administration last night asked a federal judge to reconsider her order to release the Guantánamo force-feeding tapes.
In the ongoing First Amendment battle by 16 press organizations seeking to publish the video tapes of former detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab being force-fed, Judge Gladys Kessler issued an order on July 10th that the government complete key redactions and prepare the tapes for release by September 30th.
Last night, however, the Obama administration filed a motion for reconsideration of that order with Judge Kessler. Justice Department lawyers claim in their filing that releasing the footage will aid extremist groups and say the press have no First Amendment right to the evidence.
The tapes were first filed to court as classified evidence in a legal challenge to prison conditions at Guantanamo Bay, Dhiab v Obama. 16 press organizations, including Associated Press, the Washington Post and the New York Times, intervened seeking the videos’ release to the public on press freedom grounds. Judge Kessler ordered them to be released; the Obama administration then appealed in what Judge Kessler called “as frivolous an appeal as I’ve seen.’
Meanwhile, the military nurse who objected to brutal force-feeding at Gitmo is today being presented with the Year of Ethics award by the American Nurses Association (ANA). The nurse, who has chosen to remain anonymous, previously faced dismissal from the military after he refused to force-feed detainees because of the suffering it was causing men held without charge or trial at the prison.
Commenting, Reprieve director and attorney for Abu Wa’el Dhiab, Cori Crider, said: “Judge Kessler said the Obama administration’s initial appeal was as ‘frivolous’ as she’d ever seen – well, the government decided to top that with another frivolous request for a do-over. Yet it has put no fresh evidence before the Court that would justify censoring the force-feeding tapes. Once again, the government’s argument boils down to the same old tripe: if people see the truth about Gitmo today, the ‘terrorists’ will win. We don’t deny the footage is upsetting stuff – some of it deeply so – but that’s precisely why it should be released. Americans deserve to see what is being done in their name. Releasing crucial parts of this footage will provide yet more reason the President should fulfil his promise to shut Gitmo down.”
Notes to Editors
1. For more information please call Clemency Wells on + 44 (0) 207 553 8161 or in the US, Katherine O’Shea on (+1) 917 855 8064 / clemency [DOT] firstname.lastname@example.org / katherine [DOT] email@example.com
2. Reprieve is an international human rights group.
3. The relevant filings are available upon request.