Honey and olives and Gitmo's lunch
Ramzi bin al Shibh says he didn't get lunch, so he left Guantanamo's war crimes court in protest Tuesday afternoon. "This is one type of psychological torture," he told the judge in Arabic.
Bin al Shibh is the 41-year-old Yemeni detainee facing a military trial for his alleged involvement in the 9/11 attacks, co-accused with four others, including self-professed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He was the only one of the group who showed for hearings Tuesday morning.
"Sometimes the little things - not so little - build up and that's what's happened in this case," bin al Shibh's his lawyer James Harrington told the military judge, wearily.
Seventy-five minutes later, Navy Capt. Robert Durand, Joint Task Force Guantanamo's director of public affairs had a response emailed to reporters covering the hearing, "A freshly-prepared standard detainee halal meal was provided to the defendant by the Joint Task Force during the lunch recess. The defendant complained that his lunch did not include condiments such as olives and honey."
But the lunch back-and-forth did confirm that bin al Shibh is not part of the hunger strike among detainees here, which catapulted Guantanamo back into the news earlier this year. (As of Tuesday, 46 of the 166 remaining detainees were classified by the prison as on a hunger strike).
Durrand had said previously that he was forbidden from including information in the strike statistics about the five accused, or any of the "high value" detainees who are former CIA captives, transferred here in 2006.
This passes for news in Guantanamo for now. Headline in the New York Daily News mail read: "HEY SCUM: CHOKE ON IT." The Guardian went with: "Guantánamo Bay guards withholding food, 9/11 defendant alleges." Bloomberg: "Sept. 11 Defendant Says Guantanamo food isn't adequate.
Michelle Shephard is the Star's National Security correspondent and author of "Decade of Fear: Reporting from Terrorism's Grey Zone." She is a three-time recipient of Canada's National Newspaper Award. Follow her on Twitter @shephardm