Detention: Law of

New Trouble @ Guantánamo: Counsel Letter re: the Camp 6 Hunger Strike

By Steve Vladeck
Monday, March 4, 2013, 4:16 PM

Via the Center for Constitutional Rights comes news of this alarming development--"that most of the men at Guantánamo have been on hunger strike for more than three weeks," apparently in response to a series of incidents in which camp personnel have confiscated "detainees’ personal items, including blankets, sheets, towels, mats, razors, toothbrushes, books, family photos, religious CDs, and letters, including legal mail; and restricting their exercise, seemingly without provocation or cause." In addition, a letter sent today by a number of the Guantánamo habeas counsel to Admiral Smith (Commander of the JTF-GTMO) and the JTF's Staff Judge Advocate further alleges that "Arabic interpreters employed by the prison have been searching the men’s Qur’ans in ways that constitute desecration according to their religious beliefs, and that guards have been disrespectful during prayer times." As the letter concludes, "[t]hese actions, and the fact that they have affected so many men, indicate a significant departure from the way in which the rules have been formulated and implemented over the past few years."

The full letter is available here. To the extent that the allegations contained therein are true, it only further underscores the continuing difficulties presented (and faced) by the Guantánamo detainees--and the extent to which, even as litigation over their fate dwindles, very serious questions about the same remain.