Lisa Hajjar, University of California, Santa Barbara
Two high-profile cases being prosecuted in the military commissions at Guatanamo raise exceptionally challenging problems for the US government and the civilian and military lawyers defending the suspects. One case involves five people, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who are accused of responsibility for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The second case is against Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of participating in the bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen in 2000. All six men were held for years in CIA black sites and subjected to the harshest interrogation tactics authorized by the Bush administration. One of the most confounding issues in these trials is whether the government can classify the defendants' own memories of their treatment at the hands of the CIA. Probing into this issue as it is playing out in the commissions is a means of analyzing the relationship and contradictions among three larger issues--torture, secrecy, and governmental unaccountability --and the looming question of what "justice" can mean under these circumstances.
A light lunch will be provided.