Guantanamo Bay

  • January 11, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Peter Jan Honigsberg, Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco and Founder and Director of Witness to Guantanamo

    Today marks the fifteenth anniversary of the opening of the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It is an anniversary I had hoped would never happen. Most people thought Guantanamo would close after President Obama announced on his second day in office that he would shutter the prison within a year. He repeated his pledge to close the prison three more times during his tenure. Yet, today, Guantanamo continues to be a black stain on America and negates our claim to be a global leader in human rights and the rule of law. When America accuses other countries of human rights violations, their leaders point to Guantanamo in response.

    Over the past fifteen years, public interest and information about Guantanamo has been scarce. Since Donald Trump announced that he will “load [Guantanamo] up with some bad dudes,” the prison has been back in the news.

    For the past nine years, “Witness to Guantanamo” has created the world’s most comprehensive collection of filmed stories about the prison camp at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. We have interviewed 146 people in 20 countries. Fifty-one of the interviewees are former detainees. We have also filmed interviews with prison guards, interrogators, interpreters, medical personnel, lawyers and high-ranking military and government officials who have worked in Guantanamo or on Guantanamo issues. We are the only organization in the world recording the voices and faces of one of the most important events in the 21st century for history.

    Fifteen years ago today, on Jan. 11, 2002, the first 20 (out of 780) men were dragged and marched onto an American military jet wearing orange jumpsuits, blackened goggles, earmuffs, masks, mittens and woolen caps. Ruhal Ahmed, a former detainee from England, described how their legs and arms were shackled in what was called a “three-piece suit,” with a belly chain and leg irons digging into their legs, their hands tightly shackled to their waists. Their chains were padlocked to the floor and a strap was put over their chest so that they could not move forward. Some of the lucky men were given drugs to manage the brutal 18-hour ride to Guantanamo.

  • February 24, 2016

    by Jim Thompson

    On MSNBC, ACS Board Chair Cliff Sloan, who served in the U.S. Department of State as Special Envoy for Guantánamo closure, discusses the process of transferring detainees to foreign countries and domestic detention facilities.

    At SCOTUSblog, President Barack Obama explains the qualities he seeks in a potential Supreme Court nominee.

    Paul Campos at Salon rebuts claims that Justice Scalia was a brilliant jurist, writing, “Over and over during Scalia’s three decades on the Supreme Court, if one of his cherished interpretive principles got in the way of his political preferences, that principle got thrown overboard in a New York minute.”

    In The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin remembers Justice Scalia as a stubbornly retrospective jurist “nostalgic for a world where outsiders knew their place and stayed there.”

    On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that the Republican-controlled chamber will refuse to consider any Supreme Court nominee submitted by President Obama, reports Richard Cowan at Reuters.

  • February 23, 2016

    by Jim Thompson

    President Barack Obama sent Congress a report Tuesday outlining his plan to finally close the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, report Charlie Savage and Julie Hirschfeld Davis in The New York Times. The proposal recommends transferring prisoners who are “too dangerous to release” to a prison on American soil and relocating the remaining detainees to other countries.

    Justice Scalia penned notably few majority opinions in constitutional cases, but his five-page majority in District of Columbia v. Heller, establishing an individual right to bear arms for self-defense purposes, will long stand as the “high water mark of [constitutional] originalism,” opines ACS Duke Law Student Chapter co-faculty advisor Joseph Blocher at The Trace.

    Constitutional Accountability Center’s Simon Lazarus explains how Chief Justice John Roberts can prevent senate obstructionism from undermining the effectiveness of the nation’s highest court in The New Republic, writing, “Pundits are predicting an unbroken skein of 4-4 partisan stand-offs in the numerous politically charged cases on the Court’s 2015-16 docket. But if Roberts stays true to his own precedents and principles—even if doing so yields a few rulings that will spark Republican outrage—the Court will defy those cynical forecasts.”

    At Balkinization, ACS Duke Law Student Chapter co-faculty advisor Neil Siegel and Curtis Bradley consider the potential for a constitutional convention to resolve the separation of powers controversy plaguing the judicial nomination process.

    Harvard Law and Policy Review Volume 10.1 is now available online. The volume’s symposium topic is Policing in America on the 50th Anniversary of ‘Miranda v. Arizona.’

  • November 12, 2015

    by Jim Thompson

    In The New York Times, Gregory B. Craig and Cliff Sloan argue that President Obama does not need Congress’s permission to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

    At The Intercept, Jordan Smith and Micah Lee report on a major breach of security at Securus Technologies that resulted in the leak of over 70 million prison phone call records. David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project, contends that “this may be the most massive breach of the attorney-client privilege in modern U.S. history.”

    On Tuesday, Supreme Court justices expressed skepticism towards Tyson Foods, Inc.’s challenge to a nearly $5.8 million class action suit, writes Lawrence Hurley in Reuters. ACS Board Member David Frederick is representing the plaintiffs in the case.

    Nkechi Taifa will receive the 2015 Cornelius R. “Neil” Alexander Humanitarian Award from the D.C. Commission on Human Rights at the 5th Annual Commission on Human Rights Awards on Dec. 9.

  • October 20, 2015

    by Jim Thompson

    Lynne Shallcross at NPR examines a recent survey that found 51 percent of food workers always or frequently go to work when they're sick. ACS President Caroline Fredrickson discusses this issue in her book Under The Bus, noting that the lack of paid sick leave in America deprives many workers of the option to stay home when sick.

    At The Intercept, Jenna McLaughlin questions the likelihood that President Obama will veto the latest Pentagon budget bill and finally shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

    In Washington Lawyer, Michael Smith discusses the Women Trailblazers in the Law Project, a decade-long initiative of ACS Board of Advisors member Brooksley Born and Linda Ferren, executive director of the Historical Society for the District of Columbia Circuit. The project is a “compilation of interviews with pioneering women who entered the legal profession in the 1960s or earlier and made significant contributions to the law and to other women in the profession.” Featured participants include: Jamie Gorelick, partner, WilliamHale; Marcia Greenberger, co-president, National Women’s Law Center; and Judith Lichtman, former member of the ACS Board of Directors, and currently a senior advisor to the National Partnership for Women & Families.