Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Government urges closed hearing on force-feeding at Guantanamo [corrected]

The government is urging a federal district judge to close a hearing about force-feeding of a Guantanamo detainee. According to this report in Air Force Times:
In the administration’s court filing, the Justice Department said that opening the hearing would require “closely monitoring every question to and every answer from each witness” to ensure that no classified information is released. The Justice Department proposed that the participants present unclassified opening statements that would be open to the public. In addition, the government said it would create a public version of the transcript of the hearing on a speeded-up basis.
The former Navy commander at Guantanamo Bay, Rear Admiral Richard Butler, said in a court declaration filed in July that even though the forced cell extraction videos are lawful, humane and appropriate, they “are particularly susceptible to use as propaganda and to incite a public reaction because of their depiction of forcible … guard interaction with detainees.”
The videos that also contain footage of forced-feedings could be used “to foment anti-American sentiment and inflame Muslim sensitivities as it depicts … personnel providing medical care to a detainee while he is restrained,” Butler said in the declaration.
Releasing a video showing a detainee receiving medical care while restrained “would exacerbate the world’s perception of detainees in U.S. custody,” Butler added. “Public release, in whole or in part, of videos showing forced cell extractions” or feedings would cause “serious damage to national security.”
Editor's red-faced mea culpa: The initial version of this post referred to the case as pending before a military commission judge Guantanamo, when in fact it is before a federal district judge in Washington, D.C. On October 2, 2014, Judge Gladys Kessler denied the government's motion. There is a link to her opinion in this article.

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