January 22, 2010 marks President Obama's self-imposed deadline for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which he set by Executive Order one year earlier, on his second day in office.
This discussion examines the obstacles that are preventing President Obama from fulfilling his promise, when and how Guantanamo is likely to close, and the impact of the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing on the politics of closing the detention facility.
The discussion also illuminates why it is essential that America comply with the rule of law as it continues its efforts to close Guantanamo.
Stephen Abraham is an American lawyer and officer in the United States Army Reserve. He is notable because he is the first officer who served with the Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants to publicly criticize the operations of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals.
His affidavit was key to the United States Supreme Court decision to hear petitions from Guantanamo detainees regarding their detention, and the subsequent decision (Boumediene v. Bush, 2008) that Guantanamo detainees have Habeas rights.
John C. Coughenour
John C. Coughenour is a U.S. District Court Judge. He was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981.
Before being appointed as a judge, Coughenour was a leading litigator with Bogle & Gates and has taught trial and appellate practice at the University of Washington School of Law.
Talat Hamdani lives in New York. Her son Salman, a New York City police cadet who died attempting to save lives at the World Trade Center, is mentioned by name as a hero in the USA Patriot Act. Talat is an active member of 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and has traveled to Guantanamo to observe the 9/11 defendants military commissions proceedings there.
Shayana D. Kadidal
Shayana Kadidal is senior managing attorney of the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. He is a graduate of the Yale Law School and a former law clerk to Judge Kermit Lipez of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
In his eight years at the Center, he has worked on a number of significant cases in the wake of 9/11, including the Center's challenges to the detention of prisoners at Guananamo Bay (among them torture victim Mohammed al Qahtani and former CIA ghost detainee Majid Khan), which have twice reached the Supreme Court (with a third case to be heard in March 2010), and several cases arising out of the post-9/11 domestic immigration sweeps.
He is also counsel in CCR's legal challenges to the "material support" statute (to be argued at the Supreme Court in February 2010), to the low rates of black firefighter hiring in New York City, and to the NSA's warrantless surveillance program.
Celeste Koeleveld has been Chief Appellate Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York since September 2005. She is responsible for all briefs filed by the Office in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and works with the Solicitor General's office on appellate issues. She serves as the chief legal advisor to the Office, regularly providing counsel to the U.S. Attorney and his assistants on legal matters, grand jury practice, trial practice, and strategic issues.
From November 2004 to September 2005 she was chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office, supervising over 160 Assistant U.S. Attorneys in all aspects of criminal investigations and prosecutions. From 2001 to 2004, Koeleveld was Deputy Chief Appellate Attorney.
From 1999 to 2001, she was Chief of General Crimes. From 1991 to 1999 she was Line Assistant, assigned progressively to general crimes, narcotics, and organized crime and terrorism units. She prosecuted a 20-defendant organized crime securities fraud case that resulted in convictions of members and associates of two organized crime families for securities fraud and extortion in connection with securities trading in small-cap companies. She was awarded the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service in July 1999.
Koeleveld earned her B.A. from Harvard University in 1986 and her J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1989, where she won the Archie O. Dawson Prize for Proficiency in Advocacy and was a member of the Moot Court Executive Committee. She clerked for the Hon. Kenneth Conboy, U.S. District Judge, Southern District of New York, 1989 to 1991.
Jeffrey Toobin is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a senior analyst for CNN. “The Mitigator,” his piece about capital punishment and Danalynn Recer, appeared in the May 9th issue.
Guantanamo whistleblower Stephen Abraham defends the White House's proposal to move Gitmo detainees to the Thomson Correctional Facility in rural northwestern Illinois and calls for a public demolition of the Guantanamo Bay detainment facility. "It's not something we should do subtly," he says.