Guantanamo Prisoner’s Attorneys Argue Government Appeal to Stop Release of Forced-Feeding Videos Would Fail


Attorneys for a Guantanamo Bay prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab, who has pursued a lawsuit against the United States government’s forced-feeding of prisoners, have asserted a federal court has all the authority it needs to release videos of Dhiab being force-fed and forcibly removed from his cell. The attorneys maintain the government is “seeking secrecy to prevent accountability, not to protect national security.”

Judge Gladys Kessler of the United States District Court in the District of Columbia ordered the disclosure of videos to the press on October 3. She granted the government permission to make redactions of any information identifying Joint Task Force Guantanamo personnel but rejected just about all of the government’s most facile secrecy arguments.

The government filed a motion after her decision indicating it may “possibly” appeal her decision and requested a stay of the judge’s orders. The judge granted a 30-day delay of her order to release the videos.

In the latest development in this case, Dhiab’s attorneys claim the government [PDF] has “fundamentally misunderstood” the court’s order regarding the release of videos.

“The court’s subsequent order of October 9, 2014, makes clear that the court will not require public release of the videotapes until they are redacted and the Court has approved a joint proposal regarding the process of public release.” Until this happens, there is “no imminent threat of a public release that might compromise national security or moot a contemplated future appeal from the ultimate order for public release,” his attorneys argue.

Until the government appeals, attorneys suggest the government has a responsibility to “proceed expeditiously” with redactions or “the First Amendment interest in contemporaneous public access will be irrevocably impaired.” And add, “Each passing day of delay makes the videotapes older and older news.”

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