Guantanamo Bay inmates accustomed to snacking on falafel, hummus, and kebabs—as well as fare from the on-base Pizza Hut or Mickey D's—brought in by their legal teams during visits will now have to confer on an empty stomach. In a "procedural modification" to existing rules about what prisoners can and can't do during lawyer meetings, an edict has been handed down by the DoD's Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad that food is no longer permitted during legal consults, the Miami Herald reports. The change was implemented effective today "in the best interest of health, sanitation, safety, and force protection," Navy Capt. Tom Gresback tells the Herald, also citing the military's desire to keep more closely to procedures followed at federal prisons and the armed forces' disciplinary barracks. "A legal room is not designed to be a dining facility," he notes.
But attorneys argue that the routinely-followed practice allowed them to form bonds with their clients and establish trust, as well as offer the inmates a tiny piece of life outside the prison as they try (often for years) to cut through all the red tape to regain their freedom, per the Herald. It also gives the prisoners a psychological boost of sorts: An attorney who used to represent Guantanamo inmates tells the paper that bringing food to a prisoner allows the prisoner to feel empowered as a "host" by being able to offer his legal rep a portion of his snack—something the attorney says helped nurture her client relationships. Besides, another defense attorney tells the Herald, even though normal prisons don't let food in, Gitmo is "the exact opposite of a normal prison"—a normal prison wouldn't allow US service members to riffle through prisoners' legal paperwork, he notes. (The youngest Gitmo inmate was recently released after being locked up for 13 years.)