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December 05, 2012

More Guantanamo detainee videos will remain secret

#Guantanamo videos showing a detainee being forcibly extracted from his cell can remain secret, under a new ruling.

In a 14-page decision dated Dec. 4, U.S. District Judge John Bates accepted Defense Department arguments that release of the Gitmo videos could harm national security. International Counsel Bureau and the law firm Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman had requested the videos under the Freedom of Information Act, as part of a larger effort.

The cell-extraction videos involved a detainee named Fawzi Khaled Abdullah Fahad Al Odah, while a separate video showed a detainee named Khalid Abdullah Misha'al Al–Mutairi getting a haircut while restrained, according to Bates.

The Defense Department, Bates noted, argued that "public release of the videos would allow detainees to communicate through means other than the accepted channels," and allow them to "convey direct or coded messages."

The Defense Department further asserted that "even a ten second image of a detainee waiting to be forcibly removed from his cell would show the public that a detainee was resisting the rules of the detention facility, which would allow al-Qaeda and its affiliates to create propaganda out of such images," Bates recounted.

Judge Bates bought the Pentagon's argument, reasoning that "the Department has provided sufficient explanations as to how these solo images, if released, 'reasonably could be expected to result in damage to the national security' and are therefore properly withheld" under FOIA exemptions.



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Wouldn't transmitting new messages through old video and/or still photography require precognition, at a minimum?

If this is the standard of security we are trying to achieve, why have we not buried Guantanamo and everything within it while denying that such a place ever existed?

Somewhere along the way, reason needs to regain a foothold. People who are so certain that they're doing the right thing should not be so reliant on operating in the dark.


the entire guantanamo existence damages national security


This reminds me a series of Doonesbury cartoons Trudeau drew during the war in Vietnam. Nixon had authorized the "secret" bombing of Cambodia. Cambodia was a neutral country. Bombing its territory was a war crime -- hence the secrecy.

In his cartoons Trudeua had sent his intrepid but hapless reporter to Cambodia to interview local Cambodians about the bombing. One Cambodian man says "those bombings are not secrets here." His wife says, "I said, 'look, here come the bombs!'"

The brutality of the cell extractions is not a genuine secret. I am very disappointed in Bates for falling for the deceitful prosecution arguments that it was a secret.

Unfortunately, the riot squad that performs cell extractions, is actually used to get "pay-back" for 9-11. In order to keep up the morale of the camp guards camp commandants like Geoffrey Miller, lied to them, told them that they too were on the front lines, because all the captives were dangerous terrorists. This was wildly untrue, but explains the widespread brutality there.

And the "national security" justification here is just as dangerous a lie. The real reason the DoD wants the recordings withheld is that the brutality would undermine the morale of the general public.


There is a former guard at Guantanamo, named Sean Baker. His officer directed him to participate in a "training exercise" for the riot squad that does the cell extractions. Baker was to don a detainee's orange coveralls. He was to hide under the bed in an empty cell, and pretend to be a recalcitrant detainee. His officer told him that his "safe word" was to be "RED". If he uttered that word the exercise would stop.

But riot squad was not told this was a training exercise. Rather they were told that a non-compliant detainee had physically attacked a female guard.

They entered the cell, haul Baker out from under the bed, and start to beat him to death. The leader of the five man riot squad was banging his head against the cell's concrete floor.

The riot squad are trained to march in unison, yelling ERF, ERF, ERF (for "emergency reaction force"). Yelling ERF prevented them from hearing Baker's protestations that he was a fellow GI. Of course, since they didn't know it was a training exercise, they didn't know about the "safe word".

The beating didn't end until they had beaten Baker so badly that they could see his GI uniform through tears in the detainee coveralls.

Baker was left with very debilitating brain injuries. He has incurable seizures. He was given a medical discharge. Baker fought his discharge. He wanted the DoD to find work for him that he could perform, in spite of his disabilities.

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"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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