Force-feeding GITMO prisoners should be exposed, but not to the advantage of terrorists and enemy combatants.
News from The Guardian today is that Spencer Ackerman from that organization wants the Obama administration’s secrecy request waved to get at the truth about force-feeding Guantánamo prisoners. Presumably, that technique is a violation of human rights and may be a form of torture. It is also true that some prisoners are being force-fed because they are intent on committing suicide while in U.S. hands. Some prisoners are refusing to eat because don’t want to suffer from continued confinement.
Their legal representatives are taking their cases to court, and the administration wants those proceedings closed. The reasons include that they do not want to risk revealing matters of national security. In addition, they do not want to provide more fodder that terrorists can use to recruit more followers.
It seems more prudent for authorities to inform the prisoners’ legal representatives that their clients are refusing to eat, and that the U.S. government is not going to intervene on their behalf. That way, the onus is on the prisoners and their representatives to stay alive or to die.
At this point, which is more scandalous?
- Imprisoning enemy combatants indefinitely
- Permitting prisoners to starve to death
Letting them starve appears to be the best option.
The U.S. military and legal system is falling into a trap by having to argue that force feeding is not torture. Force feeding is sometimes a legitimate medical procedure that is done with the patients permission. That is not the case with prisoners who object to the procedure. At that point, it becomes torture.
“US bid for secret Guantánamo force-feeding hearings prompts cover-up fears
Spencer Ackerman at The Guardian is among several news organisations planning to file a motion to challenge the administration’s secrecy request
The Obama administration has asked a federal judge to hold a highly anticipated court hearing on its painful force-feedings of Guantánamo Bay detainees almost entirely in secret, prompting suspicions of a cover-up.
Justice Department attorneys argued to district judge Gladys Kessler that allowing the hearings to be open to the public would jeopardize national security through the disclosure of classified information. Should Kessler agree, the first major legal battle over forced feeding in a federal court would be less transparent than the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay.
Attorneys for Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Syrian detainee on hunger strike whose court challenge is slated to begin next week, said the government was using national security as an excuse to prevent the public from learning the extent of a practice that the judge in the case has considered brutal.
But the case “includes inextricably intertwined classified, protected and unclassified information,” argued Joyce Branda, an acting assistant attorney general, in a motion filed Friday.
Branda, joined by other Justice Department attorneys, said the government would not object for the hearing’s opening statements, scheduled for 6 and 7 October in Washington DC, to be public, nor for a “public version of the transcript” to be available “on an expedited basis.”
While Branda did not offer a detailed explication of the government’s secrecy rationale, her motion referenced discussion of classified videotapes of the force-feedings, which Kessler has already barred the public from seeing.
Holding an open trial with closed sessions for discussions of classified information would “interrupt the natural flow of the hearing,” she argued, although closed session breaks are routine in the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay. Barack Obama has boasted that his is the most transparent administration in US history.
The Guardian is among several news organizations planning to file a motion to challenge the secrecy request. It has already opposed the sealing of the videotapes.
“It’s obvious what is really going on here: the government wants to seal the force-feeding trial for the same reason it is desperate to suppress the tapes of my client being hauled from his cell by the riot squad and force-fed. The truth is just too embarrassing,” Crider said.
“The Defense Department says force-feeding isn’t torture? Bring it on, I say. Release my client’s force-feeding tapes, and let’s let the American people decide for themselves. DOD [the Defense Department] know full well that if Americans saw the real evidence they would side with the Navy nurse who refused to force-feed my client, and condemn this daily violation of medical ethics.”