Judge: Gitmo Force-Feeding Illegal but Only Obama Can Stop It

Pentagon: US Committed to Continue Force-Feedings

US District Judge Gladys Kessler has rejected a Gitmo detainee’s request to end force-feedings at the facility, saying she would be overstepping her authority in doing so.

That doesn’t mean the policy is okay, however, and Kessler’s ruling included very pointed comments condemning the process as “painful, humiliating and degrading,” and adding that it was almost certainly a violation of international law and medical ethics.

The problem is that as usual Guantanamo Bay is operating in a sort of legal vacuum, and there is no judge empowered to actually order the law be followed there. Judge Kessler urged President Obama to end the force-feeding, noting that the way things are organized he is basically the only person who can end it.

That seems unlikely, as President Obama has avoided any but the most generalized comments on Guantanamo, and the military insists that the policy will continue as currently set up.

At least 106 detainees are refusing food at the facility, many of them cleared for release years ago. The number is almost certainly higher, as the military has confirmed that a small number of formerly CIA-held detainees can’t be officially counted as hunger strikers by the military whether they eat or not.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.