Appeals Court Won’t Stop Gitmo Force-Feedings

Court Says It Has Authority to Hear Such Petitions

In a double-ruling, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has refused a petition by three detainees at Guantanamo Bay to stop force-feedings, while at the same time claiming to have the authority to theoretically do something like that.

The split-decision of 2-1 by the panel said that the judiciary has authority to hear petitions by Gitmo detainees on matters of their mistreatment, but said the three detainees cleared for release who brought the case failed to show the “exceptional circumstances” that would mean they couldn’t force-feed them.

The dissenting decision, by Judge Stephen Williams, insisted that Congress has “repeatedly and forcefully sought to withdraw the federal courts’ jurisdiction over Guantanamo detainees,” and that therefore the courts shouldn’t consider any petitions.

The detainees in question were cleared for release years ago, and are still being held in Guantanamo with no hope of being released any time soon. The Justice Department argued that what they do to detainees at Guantanamo is totally outside of court oversight, and they could appeal to try to reassert this legal black hole.

The lawyer for the detainees cheered the broad decision, saying that it “puts a large crack in the edifice of lawlessness that has surrounded Guantanamo Bay since 2002.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of