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Defending Guantanamo Bay Detainees

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With support from: Lowell Institute
Date and time
Thursday, March 30, 2006

In a program cosponsored by Amnesty International USA, three lawyers currently defending prisoners in Guantanamo Bay talk about who the detainees are and why the United States continues to hold them. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States government has held hundreds of men at Guantanamo Bay as part of its "global war on terrorism." Some see the methods employed there as necessary to protect ourselves against new and horrifying threats to national security. However, the secrecy and questions about the legality of the imprisonments have drawn concern from lawmakers, foreign governments, and human rights groups. They claim that such measures violate the Geneva Conventions, inspire anti-Americanism, and infringe upon the very foundations of our civil rights.

Sabin Willett concentrates his practice in commercial litigation and bankruptcy litigation. He is experienced in complex commercial disputes and the representation of lenders and other institutional creditors in lender liability cases and complex Chapter 11 disputes, as well as general commercial litigation. He has tried jury trials and numerous bench or issues to court trials. Since 2005, he has also been active in the firms work attempting to restore the rule of law at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Gitanjali S. Gutierrez is an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a New York-based human rights organization litigating extensive challenges to the executive's post-9/11 anti-terrorism policies. Ms. Gutierrez's work focuses on challenges to unlawful detention and torture, national security issues, and anti-terrorism practices. Ms. Gutierrez was a member of the legal team representing the Guantanamo detainees in Rasul v. Bush before the United States Supreme Court in 2004 and in Boumediene v. Bush in 2008. Following CCR's 2004 victory in Rasul, she conducted the first visit by a habeas attorney to Guantanamo in September 2004. Since that time, she has been meeting frequently at the military prison with clients from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Yemen, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and the Sudan. Ms. Gutierrez is counsel for Mohammed al Qahtani, a Saudi citizen detained in Guantanamo, who was subjected to the first special interrogation plan, a regime of torture and inhuman treatment authorized by the Secretary of Defense and whose capital charges were dismissed by the Military Commissions Convening Authority in May 2008. She also represents Majid Khan, a Baltimore resident and citizen of Pakistan transferred from secret CIA detention to imprisonment at Guantanamo in September 2006.
Joshua Rubenstein has been professionally involved with human rights and international affairs for 30 years as an activist, scholar and journalist with particular expertise in Soviet affairs. A long-time Fellow of Harvard's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, he has made many research trips to Moscow and other Russian cities. He has lectured and written widely on the Soviet human rights movement, including a series of lectures in Russian at the Mendeleev Institute in Moscow in the fall of 1990 and in the spring of 1991. His first book, *Soviet Dissidents, Their Struggle for Human Rights *(1980), was based on research and interviews in Western Europe, the Soviet Union, Israel, and the United States. Mr. Rubenstein's book, *Tangled Loyalties, The Life and Times of Ilya Ehrenburg*, a biography of the controversial Soviet writer and journalist, was published after thirteen years of research and writing, including two months examining newly available material in Russian archives and libraries. Mr. Rubenstein has also contributed articles and reviews on Russian and international affairs to many publications including *Commentary*, *The New Republic*, *The Wall Street Journal*, *The Nation*, *The Columbia Journalism Review*, *The New York Times* and *The Boston Globe*. Since 1975, Mr. Rubenstein has been the Northeast Regional Director of Amnesty International USA, overseeing Amnesty's work in New England, New York and New Jersey. His responsibilities have been wide-ranging. They include acting as an official Amnesty spokesman on radio, television and in the print media; maintaining extensive press contacts and initiating editorial board meetings on breaking human rights stories; organizing public forums and benefits; establishing Amnesty chapters in high schools, colleges and the community; directing a staff of five people and many volunteers in the Northeast Regional Office located in Boston; and participating in numerous human rights activities at the national and international level.