Guantanamo Tapes ‘Not to be Released’- Rules Judge


The government is not obligated to release Guantanamo interrogation tapes, found a US District Court judge on Friday September 13. The Center for Constitutional rights, or CCR, brought the case on behalf of Mohammed al-Qahtani, a man who had been held in connection with the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Though al-Qahtani was held in detention in Guantanamo Bay for several years, the charges against him were dropped. In its complaint, the CCR argued that the recorded evidence against al-Qahtani, comprised of videos and images, is a matter of public record and as such should be released.

Writing for the US District Court for the Southern District Court in the case of Center for Constitutional Rights v. Department of Defense, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald found in favor of the Department of Defense (DOD). She found that the Government’s use of Exemption 1 from the Freedom of Information act was justified. The DOD had argued that terrorist groups would likely use the material for support, whether in fundraising, terrorist recruitment, or propaganda.

Additionally, Judge Buchwald did not find any evidence of human rights violations on the part of the interrogators. The CCR had argued that the tapes demonstrated transgressions by interrogators. Because of Judge Buchwald’s finding, there was no compelling argument against the DOD’s claim of FOIA exemption (referring to 5 USC § 552).
The Guantanamo Bay detention facility has been a magnet of controversy for over decade. It holds a number of detainees, many of whom have never been formally charged. The use of “enhanced interrogation” methods, such as waterboarding, on many of those detainees has been alleged to constitute torture. This latest ruling is a setback for prisoner advocates such as the CCR, but is not likely to end the public debate over Guantanamo. Though President Obama has promised to close the Guantanamo facility, the fate of the detainees held therein is still undetermined. The government has argued that it cannot bring cases against many of the detainees due to national security issues.


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