Al Madhwani Emergency Motion on Water and Clothes

By Benjamin Wittes
Friday, March 29, 2013, 7:01 AM

An emergency motion filed before U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan the other day alleges that guards at Guantanamo are denying a hunger-striking detainee access to potable water and are cranking up the air conditioning to freeze the detainees. The government swiftly denied the premise and filed an affidavit attempting to rebut it.

Here's what Musa’ab Omar Al Madhwani alleges:

c. For the past 3 days, prison authorities have denied Musa’ab---and others within his and one other cell block---access to potable water. When Musa’ab and his fellow prisoners requested drinking water, the guards told them to drink from the faucets. The tap water at Guantánamo Bay Naval Station is not potable, and residents of the Naval Station drink only bottled water.

d. The lack of potable water has already caused some prisoners kidney, urinary, and stomach problems.

e. For the past 10 days, prison authorities have maintained the air conditioning at extremely frigid temperatures, much colder than ever before. The cotton clothing provided to Musa’ab is insufficient to keep him warm under these super-cooled conditions.

The government responds that the tap water is perfectly potable; bottled waters is available; the temperatures is not manipulated to be uncomfortably cold; and clothes are fine:

I. Petitioner has unlimited access to potable water.

All detainees at Guantanamo Bay have unlimited access to potable drinking water from the taps of the sinks within their individual cells and on the detention blocks. See Decl. of Col. Bodgan ¶ 3. The water is checked monthly in each camp by personnel from the Joint Medical Group to ensure that it is potable. Id. This water originates from the base desalinization plant and is the same tap water that runs throughout the entire base at Guantanamo Bay. Id. It is the same water that is provided to all work spaces and residences on the Naval Station for use by all military members, civilian personnel, and their dependents stationed at Guantanamo. Id.

II. Petitioner has not been denied bottled water.

Bottled water is provided, upon request, to all Guantanamo detainees. See Decl. of Col. Bodgan ¶ 4. Detainees housed in Petitioner’s cell block have access to cases of bottled water that are kept on the block, and should that water run out, the detainees can request more. Id. Petitioner has not been denied bottled water during the time period in question in Petitioner’s Emergency Motion. Id.

III. The temperature in Petitioner’s cell has not been inappropriately manipulated.

The temperature in Petitioner’s cell block is maintained between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Decl. of Col. Bogdan ¶ 5. The temperature is regulated by automated thermostats that are regularly checked and serviced by heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contract professionals. Id. Cell temperature manipulation is not an authorized disciplinary measure and is not used for such purposes. Id. Petitioner has not complained to camp staff in the last week about the current temperature. Id. Thus, Petitioner’s claim that the temperature of his cell has been made “extremely frigid” is inaccurate.

IV. Petitioner receives appropriate clothing.

Petitioner has not been denied appropriately warm clothing. As noted above, the temperature in Petitioner’s living area has not been inappropriately manipulated and is not “extremely frigid” as Petitioner alleges. His cell block is routinely maintained at a reasonable temperature. See Decl. of Col. Bogdan ¶ 5. Petitioner is currently issued the same type of clothing that he and other Guantanamo detainees have been issued for years. Id. ¶ 6. The current standard issue clothing given to Petitioner includes four uniform tops, four uniform bottoms, nine t-shirts, seven pairs of socks, and seven pairs of underwear. Additionally, Petitioner is issued a blanket, pillowcase, and two sets of sheets. Id. Requests for additional clothing are assessed in light of potential operational concerns and medical necessity. Id. Petitioner, however, has not recently requested extra clothing or indicated any medical necessity that would warrant additional clothing. Id.