On February 27, 2006, The first violation of the McCain torture amendment was alleged in federal court in an emergency injunction to end further torture of Guantánamo detainees. The court made public an injunction filed by cooperating attorneys from Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan working with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which won the landmark Supreme Court case establishing the Guantánamo detainees' right to challenge their detention in U.S. court (Rasul v. Bush).
"If I were Senator John McCain, I would be the angriest man in America today." said Rick Murphy, a partner with Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan, which provides pro-bono counsel to detainee Mohammed Bawazir.
After being imprisoned without charges for over three years, Mr. Mohammad Bawazir began a hunger strike in August 2005. As recent news accounts have confirmed, military personnel responded with several actions designed to inflict pain, torture and punishment for the hunger strike. The cruel and inhumane treatment is detailed in today's filing, which alleges that the torture is a flagrant violation of both the McCain torture amendment, which became law as the Detainee Treatment Act, and the Constitution. The filing charges that Guantánamo personnel:
• Forcibly strapped Mr. Bawazir into a restraint chair, tying his legs, arms, head, and midsection to the chair.
• Inserted of a feeding tube that was larger than the tube that had previously been left in Mr. Bawazir's nose, increasing the pain of the insertion and extraction.
• Poured four bottles of water into his stomach through the nasal gastric tube every time he was fed even though Mr. Bawazir has never refused to drink water by mouth.
• Restrained Mr. Bawazir in the chair for extended periods at each feeding.
• Denied Mr. Bawazir access to a toilet while he was restrained and then for an additional hour or more after he was released from the chair.
• Placed Mr. Bawazir in solitary confinement.
"Mere days after signing the McCain Amendment, the Bush Administration engaged in some of the most flagrant acts of torture that have occurred in Guantánamo. The horrific misuse of the emergency restraint chair and the medical abuses served no purpose other than to terrorize nonviolent prisoners into ending their hunger strike," said Gitanjali S. Gutierrez, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights. "Senator McCain led an important fight to ban torture, but will he stand up for it now that the Bush Administration is breaking the law?"
CCR and its cooperating attorneys will continue to challenge the torture, mistreatment and illegal detainment of the Guantánamo prisoners in federal court.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.