Judge orders release of videotapes showing Gitmo forced feedings

Restraint chair used to force-feed detainees at the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Story highlights

  • Videos show forced feedings at Guantanamo Bay
  • They can only be released with modifications
  • Government will likely appeal, meaning they won't be seen soon
A federal judge has ordered the Obama administration to release 28 videotapes purportedly showing forced feedings and other confinement measures of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba.
Judge Gladys Kessler ruled Friday the tapes can be released with modifications -- such as blurring faces -- to address the government's concerns over identifying guards, uniforms, and written materials on walls.
"Given what is already available to the public and known to the detainees, it simply is not plausible to argue that release of the videos will give rise to an additional probability of harm by encouraging the development of FCE [forced cell extractions] countermeasures," Kessler said in the ruling.
Lawyers for a Syrian man held at Guantanamo since 2002, whose approved release is still pending, were lobbying for the release of the videos ahead of a hearing scheduled for Monday.
Abu Wa'el Dhiab, 43, has been on numerous hunger strikes while in detention. He and his lawyers are seeking a preliminary injunction preventing detention facility officials from forced cell extractions [FCE], and placing him in a so-called restraint chair used for forced feedings.
The method is designed to provide liquid nutrition and medicine via a tube inserted in the nose directly into the stomach.
Several media organizations -- including the Associated Press, NPR, The New York Times and Dow Jones -- had also filed a separate brief urging the release of the tapes, which show forced feedings of Dhiab and others.
The Justice Department had expressed concern about national security or other sensitive information being inadvertently revealed in open court and requested a closed hearing, but Kessler strongly dismissed the arguments and denied the request.
"This Court has full faith in the ability of counsel and the court, acting together, to handle in an efficient and appropriate manner, all the classified and protected information," Kessler wrote in a Thursday ruling. "Moreover, a reasonable amount of delay and logistical burdens are a small price to pay for the virtues of judicial transparency."
The government will likely appeal, meaning it's unlikely the videotapes will be released anytime soon.
The case is Dhiab v. Bush (1:05-cv-1457).