Judge Kessler to President Obama: Will You Save Gitmo Detainees from “Painful, Humiliating, and Degrading” Treatment?

In my post describing the emergency suit to stop force-feeding at Gitmo before Ramadan, I suggested it might be unlikely for the DC District Court judges to accept a challenge about prison conditions. That is exactly what happened: Judge Gladys Kessler rejected the request on jurisdictional grounds.

But along the way, she made it clear she doesn’t buy government claims that force-feeding people is really the best medical care.

Despite the statements contained in the Declaration submitted by the Government in support of its Opposition to the Application claiming that “[t]he health care provided to the detainees being held at JTF-GTMO rivals that provided in any community in the United States and is comparable to that afforded to our active duty service members. Detainees receive timely, compassionate, quality healthcare and have regular access to primary care and specialist physicians,” it is perfectly clear from the statements of detainees, as well as the statements from the organizations just cited, that force-feeding is a painful, humiliating, and degrading process. [my emphasis]

At which point she made clear who really bears responsibility for this continued treatment.

Even though this Court is obligated to dismiss the Application for lack of jurisdiction, and therefore lacks any authority to rule on Petitioner’s request, there is an individual who does have the authority to address the issue. In a speech on May 23,2013, President Barack Obama stated “Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are holding a hunger strike. . . Is that who we are? Is that something that our founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave to our children? Our sense of justice is stronger than that.” Text of President Obama’s May 23 Speech on National Security (Full Transcript), Wash. Post, May 23, 2013, available at 2013 WLNR 12700673.

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution provides that “[t]he President shall be the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States … ” It would seem to follow, therefore, that the President of the United States, as Commander-in-Chief, has the authority–and power–to directly address the issue of force-feeding of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. [my emphasis]

Kessler’s use of the term “degrading” is particularly notable. Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture reads, in part,

Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture

A federal judge has just determined that force-feeding Gitmo detainees amounts to degrading treatment.

Will the President act to end this degrading treatment, or will he publicly fail to meet our obligations under the Convention Against Torture?

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6 Responses to Judge Kessler to President Obama: Will You Save Gitmo Detainees from “Painful, Humiliating, and Degrading” Treatment?

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bmaz Now saying two female victims. Shooter unclear. https://t.co/u2IMEnMlxk
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bmaz Whoa, local news says it was two females involved in the Glendale Independence High shooting
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emptywheel @elizabeth_joh As I noted when I made that same point, 702 minimization procedures effective already use it.
32mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @lpackard Why not? It works for James Clapper.
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emptywheel By this logic LE can get into all encrypted emails (which is sort of how NSA works anyway). https://t.co/hDdXhizpoz
39mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Congratulations, Bears fans: You've still got Cutler but you don't have Matt Forte anymore.
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emptywheel Or the emails on the private account that his official emails very obviously get forwarded to. https://t.co/wGY0gUDSFQ
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emptywheel Excellent choice (tho another important scholar who will now be silenced w/clearance) https://t.co/EcWYBpObVb
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emptywheel Rick Snyder's emails are like torture photos: We only get the ones that don't show the dead bodies. https://t.co/rQDFNxqXo3
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emptywheel @caulkthewagon I'm glad there's such a divide bt "but golly he's such a respected figure" & "holy shit we can finally call him war criminal"
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emptywheel Is there a special word for the nostalgia you feel when you have to change one of your favorite passwords?
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