Defense Lawyers Move to Block Force-Feeding of Guantánamo Prisoner

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The standoff began successful June erstwhile a detainee accused of conspiring successful the Sept. 11 attacks was placed successful disciplinary status, distant from the different prisoners, and stopped eating.

A exemplary  situation  compartment  astatine  the detention halfway  astatine  Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

July 12, 2021, 7:57 p.m. ET

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — One of the 5 men accused of conspiring successful the Sept. 11 attacks is refusing to devour aft being placed successful isolation and has been told helium could beryllium force-fed, his lawyers said successful a ineligible filing that asked a subject tribunal to intervene.

Lawyers for the man, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a 49-year-old Yemeni who had been held by the C.I.A. earlier being moved to Guantánamo, described the menace of force-feeding arsenic the archetypal of its benignant successful the long-running death-penalty case, and psychologically traumatizing for their client.

During the George W. Bush administration, the defendants successful the Sept. 11 lawsuit were held successful concealed C.I.A. prisons wherever immoderate detainees were tortured and, erstwhile they went connected hunger strike, were subjected to a quasi-medical method of “rectal refeeding” oregon “rectal hydration.”

The tribunal filing, dated July 9, is the archetypal motion of protestation astatine the maximum-security situation wherever the erstwhile C.I.A. detainees were relocated successful April from a dilapidated if much communal installation that regularly suffered powerfulness outages and sewage backups.

A spokesperson for the Defense Department, Mike Howard, said connected Monday that nary of the 40 detainees were being fed involuntarily “at this time.” He added that “we bash not usage solitary confinement astatine Guantánamo,” reflecting a long-held presumption by the subject that being placed unsocial connected a compartment artifact does not represent solitary confinement due to the fact that a detainee has the accidental to talk with guards, lawyers, aesculapian unit and linguists.

No day has been acceptable for the commencement of the trial. Mr. bin al-Shibh and the different 4 men who are accused of conspiring successful the onslaught person been successful pretrial proceedings since arraignment successful 2012, and Mr. bin al-Shibh precocious obtained a caller pb lawyer, David I. Bruck, who specializes successful defending prisoners successful superior cases.

To complicate matters, the lawsuit presently has nary proceedings judge. It had been managed successful a caretaker presumption by the erstwhile main judge, Col. Douglas K. Watkins of the Army, who retires astatine the extremity of the month.

Mr. bin al-Shibh has agelong been considered the astir volatile of the erstwhile C.I.A. prisoners astatine Guantánamo. He has been repeatedly removed from tribunal proceedings for interrupting with complaints of vibrations shaking his compartment and achy pinpricks connected his skin, which helium claims are portion of a astir two-decade U.S. run of slumber deprivation.

People with cognition of his conditions said helium continued to comprehend the occupation successful his caller cell, and would outcry astatine nighttime and screen the surveillance camera, prompting guards to spot him successful isolation astir June 25.

Since then, helium has refused meals “to protestation his isolation,” according to a 12-page exigency filing that asks a justice astatine the subject commissions to prohibit his forced feeding.

“Mr. bin al-Shibh does not question to dice oregon injure himself,” the pleading said. “He does not adjacent question to extremity his discipline. Instead, helium seeks to extremity his isolation and instrumentality to his erstwhile location, wherever his chap detainees tin beryllium alert of what is happening to him arsenic before.”

Mr. bin al-Shibh was “placed successful a disciplinary status” due to the fact that helium assaulted different detainee and for “destruction of authorities property,” an evident notation to damaging the surveillance camera successful his situation cell, according to a Defense Department authoritative who spoke astir the lawsuit connected information of anonymity.


Defense Department officials declined to accidental what the current, accepted signifier of force-feeding is astatine the prison. At times, guards person shackled prisoners to a infirmary furniture and administered intravenous drips. More typically, the detainee is shackled into a restraint seat and medics snake a conduit up a detainee’s chemoreceptor and into his tummy and past pump nutrition inside.

The C.I.A. utilized different method, which progressive shackling a captive to a gurney oregon laying him retired connected the level and inserting nutrient oregon liquid done a conduit inserted successful the prisoner’s anus. This was during the years erstwhile its captives were held astatine concealed sites successful overseas countries.

Detainees among the 780 men and boys who person been held astatine Guantánamo since January 2002 person periodically gone connected hunger strikes to protestation their conditions, and the subject has ne'er permitted 1 to starve himself to death.

“The aesculapian squad ensures that detainees that whitethorn beryllium conducting self-imposed fasting are not creating harm to their semipermanent health,” Mr. Howard said. “Any detainee who chooses to behaviour a self-imposed accelerated is made alert of the consequences of this decision.”

Prison unit members told Mr. bin al-Shibh connected July 3 that, if helium did not commencement eating, helium could beryllium force-fed arsenic soon arsenic this past weekend, according to the filing.

His lawyers asked for a tribunal bid to forestall the feeding, oregon for the tribunal to “review the procedures for force-feeding to guarantee they are not unnecessarily invasive oregon harmful.” Their filing besides sought the usage of a process nether which qualified aesculapian experts find that a captive is successful “imminent information of death” oregon a superior wellness menace and question tribunal support to force-feed him.

Mr. bin al-Shibh volition eat, the lawyers wrote, if helium tin beryllium adjacent different prisoners, adjacent successful disciplinary status.

Guantánamo contiguous has 40 detainees. The fewer known to garbage nutrient are long-held wide colonisation prisoners who, commanders person said, mostly portion a tin of Ensure erstwhile confronted with the menace of being tackled, shackled and strapped to a restraint seat to immobilize them for feeding.

But akin attraction has not been utilized connected the alleged high-value detainees similar Mr. bin al-Shibh due to the fact that they person been described arsenic fearing the rectal refeeding techniques the C.I.A. employed. In caller years they person been allowed to devour successful tiny groups, but their caller situation seemingly does not licence arsenic galore communal opportunities.

Mr. bin al-Shibh is accused of having organized immoderate of the Sept. 11 hijackers portion successful Germany, wherever helium and the different men lived earlier the attacks. He besides reportedly aspired to beryllium a hijacker himself by repeatedly applying for a visa to the United States, but helium failed to person one.

He was captured connected Sept. 11, 2002, successful Pakistan and was held by the United States, oregon a proxy, until his transportation to Guantánamo successful September 2006. In U.S. custody helium has been “subjected to galore violations of bodily autonomy, including forced shaving and forced nudity,” his lawyers wrote. Once successful subject custody, helium “has complained of continuous harassment designed to disrupt his regular life, sleep, functioning and narration with counsel.”

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