U.S. Navy medical personnel flank a chair with restraints used for force-feeding and a tray holding nutritional shakes, a tube for feeding through the nose and lubricants, including a jar of olive oil, during a 2013 tour of the detainee hospital at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. (AP / Charles Dharapak)

U.S. Justice Department attorneys argued at a hearing on a lawsuit seeking to make public the videotapes of a prisoner being force-fed at the Guantanamo Bay prison that courts cannot order the unsealing of evidence that has been classified by the government.

“We don’t think there is a First Amendment right to classified documents,” stated Justice Department lawyer Catherine Dorsey.

Sam Sacks reports at The Intercept:

The judges at the D.C. Court of Appeals appeared skeptical. Chief Judge Merrick Garland characterized the government’s position as tantamount to claiming the court “has absolutely no authority” to unseal evidence even if it’s clear the government’s bid to keep it secret is based on “irrationality” or that it’s “hiding something.”

“That is our position,” Dorsey agreed. She added that a more appropriate tool to compel the release of the videos was through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Sixteen media organizations, including First Look Media, are seeking footage of Abu Wa’el Dhiab being repeatedly force-fed at Guantánamo. Dhiab was held by the U.S. for 12 years without charges or trial before being released to Uruguay last December.

“There is a public right at stake,” David Schultz told the panel of judges on behalf of the media outlets, adding that the videos depict “illegal conduct by government employees.”

Continue reading here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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