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"These Members of Congress have done what the President has failed to do: demand an end to the unjust secrecy over abuse at Gitmo," said Reprieve attorney Alka Pradhan. (Photo:  Justin Norman/flickr/cc)

Progressive Caucus to Obama: End Veil of Secrecy over Guantanamo Abuses

CPC co-chairs Grijalva and Ellison send letter to Obama urging him to release force-feeding videos to Congress

Andrea Germanos

The heads of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) have told President Obama that the continued secrecy over videotapes showing force-feedings of Guantánamo inmates is "untenable" and that he should allow members of Congress to see them.

Earlier this month, federal judge Gladys Kessler ordered public release of videos showing force-feedings and forcible cell removals of hunger-striking prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab, who is engaged in a legal challenge, Dhiab v. Obama, over his treatment. In a statement issued through his attorneys at the UK-based charity Reprieve, Dhiab stated: "If the American people stand for freedom, they should watch these tapes. If they truly believe in human rights, they need to see these tapes."

There are also videos of Guantánamo prisoner Emad Hassan being force-fed and violently extracted from his cell. Both men have been cleared for release.

In the letter (pdf) they sent to Obama on Thursday, Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) write: "The recordings are currently classified at the 'Secret' level, although no national security or other justification has been provided for this classification."

They note that Dhiab's legal representatives, who have seen the tapes, said they were "extremely disturbing," and that prominent organizations have denounced the force-feeding techniques as violations of medical ethics and human rights.

"The facts pertaining to these practices at Guantánamo should be available to Members of Congress," they write.

"Ongoing secrecy is untenable. U.S. personnel at Guantánamo should not carry out policies that are contrary to American laws or values. We urge you to allow Members of Congress to view the video recordings of Mr. Dhiab’s and Mr. Hassan’s force-feedings and to take any action necessary to correct these practices."

Alka Pradhan, a Reprieve attorney for Mr Dhiab, said in a media statement: "These Members of Congress have done what the President has failed to do: demand an end to the unjust secrecy over abuse at Gitmo. This call from Capitol Hill is as clear as Judge Kessler's order. The White House must release the tapes without delay, so that Congress and the American people can see what’s being done in our name."

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