Tag Archives: Abu Wael Dhiab

Obama Administration Continues to Fight Release of Gitmo Force Feeding Videos

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler denied a request from the Obama Administration which sought to reverse a previous ruling by Kessler that ordered the release of videos showing the force-feeding of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee.

The Washington Post reports that Judge Kessler called the abuse of prisoners being held without charges a “burning, controversial issue in this country.” In October 2014, Kessler ruled that the Obama Administration must unseal 32 video tapes related to the force-feeding of Abu Wa’el Dhiab, who was then being held without charge at the military prison in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba.

Dhiab was kidnapped by the Pakistani government in 2002 before being handed over to the United States on suspicion of terrorism. At the end of 2014, after twelve years behind bars with no trial, Abu Wa’el Dhiab was finally released to Uruguay. The violence and forced-feeding procedures have caused permanent damage to his health and he is now confined to a wheelchair.

[RELATED: Navy Nurse Refuses To Force-Feed Guantanamo Bay Prisoner]

The videos in question show Dhiab subjected to violent “forced cell extraction” and forced-feeding. The forced-feeding sessions began after he refused to eat. Dhiab’s lawyers allege that he was subject to this process over 1,300 times. He had been protesting his treatment and conditions at the prison by participating in a hunger strike which at one point had spread to 100 detainees in the facility.

Although the government requested Judge Kessler reconsider her decision, The Post reports “edited versions of eight of 32 videos and two compilation videos of Dhiab, with information such as the voices and faces of prison workers redacted” have been handed over.

“The importance of releasing the videotapes to the public in order to ‘enlighten the citizenry’ and ‘improve perceptions of the proceeding’s fairness,’ cannot be overstated,” stated Judge Kessler.

Kessler’s nine-page order stated the government had not offered evidence to support their claims that releasing the classified videos would somehow endanger the national security of the United States. Judge Kessler has clashed with the government’s attorneys throughout the case.

[RELATED: Federal Judge Challenges Obama’s Use of Executive Order to Hide Gitmo Videos]

The Obama administration is expected to appeal once more before the tapes are officially released to the public. The administration previously attempted to use Executive Order 13,526 (which governs the Executive Branch’s classification of national security information) to deny the release of the tapes. Judge Kessler said it “would displace the court’s power to seal its own record, putting that authority in the government’s hands alone.” She also stated, “the judiciary has the discretion to seal or unseal a judicial record.”

The government had previously argued that the release of any footage of the force-feeding “provides the enemy with opportunity to search for weaknesses and vulnerabilities.” When President Obama attempted to seal the videos, several news organizations came together in opposition of such a move, including ABC News, Associated Press, First Look Media, Guardian, McClatchy, NPR, New York Times and Reuters.

Judge Kessler sided with the organizations and Dhiab. Kessler called the governments arguments “unacceptably vague, speculative,” and “plain implausible.” She stated that:

“It is our responsibility, as judges, as part of our obligation under the Constitution, to ensure that any efforts to limit our First Amendment protections are scrutinized with the greatest of care. That responsibility can not be ignored or abdicated.”

The government has also attempted to keep the hearings away from the public eye, but, once again, Judge Kessler intervened. Judge Kessler ruled that the U.S. government could not close the hearing and called the efforts by the Department of Justice “deeply troubling.” Even more telling is the fact that during those hearings the government was not able to get a single witness to testify in favor of the forced-feeding practices.

The whole force-feeding debacle is yet another example of the lies of the Obama Administration and the dangers of government. The entire history of the Guantanamo Bay military prison is a disturbing view into how the American Empire views it’s enemies.

We have been taught to see foreign human beings as less than, or deserving of the punishment dealt by an increasingly totalitarian government. We cannot allow this to go on any longer. It’s time for all liberty loving, awakened Americans to stand up to the injustices of the U.S. government.

US Releases Six Guantánamo Detainees Accepted By Uruguay

The Defense Department announced that six Guantánamo Bay detainees who had been cleared for release several years ago were transferred to Uruguay over the weekend.

The detainees released were 32-year-old Ali Husain Shaaban, 37-year-old Ahmed Adnan Ajuri, 39-year-old Abdelahdi Faraj, 35-year-old Mohammed Abdullah Taha Mattan, 49-year-old Adel bin Muhammad El Ouerghi, and 43-year-old Abu Wa’el Dhiab.

Dhiab’s story, previously covered by Benswann.com, attracted significant national attention surrounding the prison’s treatment of detainees due to a lawsuit he had filed with help from human rights organization Reprieve challenging force-feeding practices at the prison.

Dhiab had been imprisoned at Guantánamo since 2002 despite the fact that no charges were brought against him and he was cleared for release in 2009.

Dhiab protested his time spent at Guantánamo by declaring a hunger strike that resulted in repeated forced feedings. Attorneys for Dhiab claimed that the feedings were causing substantial suffering, and a press release from Reprieve stated that he was denied access to his wheelchair and “brutally dragged from his cell and force-fed against his will every day.” A Navy nurse who had been force-feeding Dhiab revolted against the procedure and refused to continue, calling it a “criminal act”.

The legal battle challenging his treatment resulted in over a dozen media outlets including the New York Times and Associated Press pressing for the release of videotapes documenting Dhiab’s forced feedings.

In October, United States District Judge Gladys Kessler ordered those tapes to be unsealed, dismissing the federal government’s argument that publicizing the videos would compromise national security. The Obama administration appealed Kessler’s ruling on December 2nd.

An agreement between the United States and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica regarding transfer of the detainees was reached early this year, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel received criticism from Obama administration officials for allowing the agreement to remain on his desk for months without signing it and waiting until July to inform Congress that he was approving it.

“We are very grateful to Uruguay for this important humanitarian action, and to President Mujica for his strong leadership in providing a home for individuals who cannot return to their own countries,”said State Department envoy Cliff Sloan. “The support we are receiving from our friends and allies is critical to achieving our shared goal of closing Guantánamo.”

According to the New York Times, the Obama administration expects that if Guantánamo’s prison population is reduced to under 100 detainees Congress may overturn a law that prohibits them from being held on American soil, signaling a potential initiative to actually close Guantánamo.

Judge Orders Release Of Guantanamo Force-Feeding Videos

United States District Judge Gladys Kessler ordered videotapes exhibiting the force-feeding of Guantanamo Bay detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab to be unsealed.

The order stated “In short, it is our responsibility, as judges, as part of our obligation under the Constitution, to ensure that any efforts to limit our First Amendment protections are scrutinized with the greatest of care. That responsibility can not be ignored or abdicated.”

Kessler’s order on Friday disregarded the federal government’s argument that releasing the videos could compromise national security. The government warned that the videos would expose the prison’s architecture and the identities of guards that perform the force feedings. In Kessler’s order, she specified that the videos would redacted to protect the identities of all individuals other than Dhiab. “It strains credulity to conclude that release of these videos has a substantial probability of causing the harm the Government predicts,” Kessler stated in the order.

Several media outlets became involved in seeking the release of the videotapes. Dhiab encouraged the media’s interest in the videos and has said that he wants as many people as possible to witness the actions in the tapes. “I want Americans to see what is going on at the prison today, so they will understand why we are hunger-striking, and why the prison should be closed. If the American people stand for freedom, they should watch these tapes. If they truly believe in human rights, they need to see these tapes,” Dhiab said in a statement that was included in Kessler’s order.

Cori Crider, an attorney for Dhiab who works for the human rights group Reprieve, said “It is high time the bright light of the truth was shone on Guantanamo’s force-feeding practices. It has always been the height of hypocrisy for the Guantanamo authorities to take media groups on ‘show tours’, while forbidding them from talking to prisoners or seeing evidence like this, which shows the grim reality of life at the prison. I look forward to the day when this evidence is made public, and I believe the outcry that results will hasten the close of Guantanamo Bay.”

Kessler’s order is the most recent course of action involving Dhiab’s protest against his detainment. Dhiab has been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay for over a decade, and despite being cleared for release in 2009 he remains at the facility. His attempts at hunger striking in protest have been obstructed by force-feeding, and he has filed suit to stop them. In July, a nurse refused to continue performing Dhiab’s feedings, calling it a “criminal act”.

A preliminary hearing for Dhiab’s ongoing case is scheduled for today.

Navy Nurse Refuses To Force-Feed Guantanamo Bay Prisoner

Described as the first known instance of rebellion against Guantánamo Bay’s enteral force-feeding policy, a Navy nurse refused to continue force-feeding hunger-striking prisoners.

The incident was revealed after Guantánamo prisoner Abu Wael Dhiab called his lawyer, Cori Crider of British legal defense group Reprieve, to inform her that a male nurse had suddenly refused to continue force-feeding him and other inmates earlier this month, sometime before the Fourth Of July. Dhiab said that the nurse declared, “I have come to the decision that I refuse to participate in this criminal act.”

Dhiab also said he was informed by the nurse “before we came here, we were told a different story. The story we were told was completely the opposite of what I saw.” The identity of the nurse is unknown at this time, but Dhiab described him as a Latino around 40 years of age.

Crider applauded the rebellion of the nurse: “This is a historic stand by this nurse, who recognized the basic humanity of the detainees and the inhumanity of what he was being asked to do. He should be commended. He should also be permitted to continue to give medical care to prisoners on the base but exempted from a practice he rightly sees as a violation of medical ethics.”

Navy Capt. Tom Gresback confirmed the incident but offered no additional details. “There was a recent instance of a medical provider not willing to carry out the enteral feeding of a detainee,” he stated. “The matter is in the hands of the individual’s leadership.”

Dhiab is currently in a federal court battle to end forced tube-feeding. He was arrested without charges in Pakistan and turned over to US authorities in 2002 before his imprisonment at Guantánamo. He was cleared to be released in 2009, but instead has been remained in the facility for nearly 13 years.