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Guantanamo Bay Force-Feeding Videos To Be Released

A federal judge rejected the Obama Administration's appeal to keep videos of a detainee's force-feeding classified.

Guantanamo Bay Force-Feeding Videos To Be Released
Getty Images / Joe Raedle

A federal judge has ordered the release of 28 videos that show the force-feeding of a Guantanamo Bay detainee on a hunger strike. This marks the first time any court has opposed the government on classified material involving Gitmo detainees. 

AL JAZEERA: "Abu Wa'el Dhiab has been locked up in Guantanamo Bay for 12 years. He's on a hunger strike, but military members strap him to a chair and force feed him. His lawyers are challenging the treatment calling them abusive." 

According to Reprieve, a group that offers legal support to prisoners, Dhiab was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 for undisclosed reasons and was then handed over to U.S. authorities who later placed him in Guantanamo Bay. 

Dhiab has been on a long-term hunger strike, like many other prisoners. The government began force-feeding Dhiab in 2012 — the process, as seen in this animation, involves putting a tube in an inmate's nose and down their throat so a nutritional supplement can be poured directly into their stomach.  

Dhiab said he wanted Americans to see what was going on within the prison and several news outlets sued to have the tapes released, arguing the public had a right to access the videos. 

But according to the Los Angeles Times, "The government argued ... that releasing the classified videos would harm national security, by showing the physical layout of the prison, identifying guards who participate in the feedings, and creating the risk that others might use the videos for propaganda."

In her decision, D.C. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler said most of the government's arguments for keeping the videos sealed "are unacceptably vague, speculative, lack specificity, or are just plain implausible." 

It's uncertain when the videos will be released, but Judge Kessler's decision can't be seen as good news for an administration that's been trying to close Guantanamo Bay, or a Congress that won't let it happen. 

The New York Times wrote in September Guantanamo Bay has 79 prisoners approved to be transferred to other countries. But, according to Gen. John F. Kelly, Guantanamo Bay is far from being closed and it'll take Congressional action to overturn the current prisoner transfer ban. 

Judge Kessler said the military can redact certain information and might blur the faces of guards and nurses before releasing the videos. The Department of Justice says it's weighing its options before moving forward.