Authors@Google: Kristine Huskey

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 29.09.2009

Kim Huskey: I have a sister who's making a difference.
And her name is Kristine Huskey. She is author of the recently published,
"Justice at Guantanamo: One woman's odyssey and her crusade for human rights.”
She's an attorney, she's a law professor, and she is codirector of the National Security
Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law, which she established in 2007 and served
as director for two years. So, I'll let her take over.
Thank you again for coming.
>> [Clapping]
Kristine Huskey: Oh, she does. Well, thank you for that very warm welcome.
And special thanks to my sister and your colleague, Kim Huskey.
She really is a great person. And for her support in bringing me here and
to Google's support for bringing me here, and to all of you for showing up -- whether
out of friendship for Kim or your interest in the book.
So thank you. So first, I'm going to tell you a little bit
about the book -- and you can all hear me, right?
Tell you a little bit about the book, read a passage -- maybe two -- depending on the
time, and then take questions. So, what is the book about?
It's really two stories. And the first story is my personal -- and
what some people might say "unconventional" or some people might say "strange" -- journey
from being a reckless dancing-on-bars bartender and model with my sister in New York City
to being part of a legal team before the Supreme Court on a, you know, high-profile, very controversial,
internationally-known case that was being heralded as one of the most significant human
rights -- civil rights -- cases since Brown v. Board.
You could imagine how long and strange that journey might have been.
The second story is the story of Guantanamo. And it's not the story you might read in the
newspapers -- New York Times, Washington Post. It's not the story you might read in a Harvard
Law Review with 300 footnotes. So it's not a legal story; it's not a policy
story. It's a story of Guantanamo from a human perspective
and from what it was like just a few years out of law school really representing suspected
terrorists at Guantanamo having grown up in Alaska with parents and grandparents who were
in the military. And if asked, they probably would have said
they were Republicans -- and my sister is rolling her eyes -- and all of a sudden, here
I was representing suspected terrorists. So that's the second piece, and it's interwoven
with my personal journey. It's really the human side -- hopefully the
human side -- of Guantanamo and how it started. So the book opens with me 18 years old in
New York City, living with Kim in a basement apartment, and I somehow move to Angola, Africa
-- 18 years old. And Angola was in the middle of a raging civil
war. I learned to live without running water, I
learned to speak Portuguese; there were curfews and travel restrictions.
And the book starts with this 'high adventure' -- hopefully, and kind of keeps the reader
through one adventure after another, talking about my adventures there in Angola, and taking
me back to New York -- that's the reckless part.
I will say, as an aside, my editor asked me when I was writing that chapter, on New York,
"Can you put some more detail in there?” And I said, "I'm a lawyer, and I might have
a career ahead of me. So, we'll leave those details out.”
If you want more details, you can ask Kim -- for the reckless details part.
So after really, a year of sort of "Bright Lights, Big City" -- if anybody remembers
that movie -- I really pulled myself together, inspired really by my sister to go to Columbia.
We went to Columbia, and we both graduated with high honors.
And it sort of tells the story of what it's like to live in New York City working, bartending,
putting yourself through school, trying to make something of yourself really.
And then, my life sort of took another turn, and I decided to model after graduating from
Columbia with high honors. I guess maybe that's another part of the strange
journey. And found myself modeling in videos.
And one, in particular -- again, some of you might be too young to remember this, but
-- there was an MTV video called, "Knockin the Boots.”
Yeah, okay. So I was in that video.
So that's really Part One of the book. It's all those adventures, modeling, Columbia,
bartending, all these crazy things. And finally, I decide to really be a professional.
And so, that's the majority of the book is about my professional life as a lawyer and
about Guantanamo. And so, I go into law school, of course, wanting
to save the world. And I come out of law school, and what do
I do? I work for a big law firm which represents
evil corporations -- as my sister used to describe me -- and I did that for couple years,
and somehow found myself, shortly after starting work at this law firm that's headquartered
here in New York, representing Guantanamo detainees.
And this was more than seven years ago, and just six months after 9/11, which, you know,
if anybody was in New York at the time probably remembers it very vividly.
I was actually here on a case staying at the Waldorf.
And I was at this law firm, and the law firm was approached by a couple of Kuwaiti families
who were looking for their sons. Now, if anybody remembers -- back then, Guantanamo
was a big secret. And the administration wanted to keep it that
way. And it was a legal black hole and there were
no lawyers allowed there and there were no, you know, really no outside organizations
other than the Red Cross. And any information that came out about Guantanamo
was, "Oh, these guys are all terrorists. And they chew through hydraulic cable to kill
American men and women.” Well, those were my clients.
And the Kuwaiti families basically said, "We can't seem to find our sons who'd been overseas.
Nobody in the American embassy will talk to us.
Nobody in the U.S. government will talk to us.
And so, we decided that we would have to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government in order
to force the government to come forward and just confirm that they had custody of these
Kuwaiti citizens.” And so, we filed a lawsuit in May of 2002.
And I thought, you know, the lawsuit was basically, "These guys deserve due process.
What about the Fifth Amendment? They should have charges and trial."
And I thought, "Who can be against due process? What judge is going to turn that down?”
We weren't asking them to be released. We were just asking that they be charged,
given a trial, a chance to prove their innocence. And you know, shockingly enough -- back then,
to me, it was shocking -- now, the world seems to be somewhat different.
The judge agreed with the government. And what the government said was not that
they don't get due process -- what the government was saying is that Guantanamo is not the U.S.
and those men there are foreign citizens. And so, not even the U.S. courts should be
overseeing the custody of these people who are human beings -- that no U.S. court was
allowed to have authorization to hear claims by these men.
And to me, that was just an astounding thing. I mean, we wrote in this first brief -- we
said, "The government, essentially, is taking the position that they could go around the
world and pick up people off the streets and put them at Guantanamo and torture them.”
Well, actually, now we sort of know that's what they did.
But back then, we sort of asked it as a rhetorical question, "How could this possibly be?”
But the Court agreed with the government that the men at Guantanamo should not even have
a right to be in court and challenge their detention.
They didn't have a right to have a trial -- that they could be tortured without even
going into court and complaining about it. I mean, you know, either I was naive, or the
world really had changed. I think more so -- as somebody mentioned,
Phil here -- that the U.S. changed, and we were in a different time and in a different
place than the rest of the world. So the book goes on -- the story goes on
-- about the litigation that I did and fighting in the courts and as a young attorney, all
of a sudden finding myself at the Supreme Court and doing these 'moots' -- they're called
'moots,' where you practice arguing -- you know, with law professors.
And here I was just out of law school and we're about to go in front of the Supreme
Court. So that was, you know, it's from the book
and the story is from the eyes of a young lawyer who's sort of taking this all in and
taking in what's going on, you know, at Guantanamo and around the world.
Now, during that time, we were not allowed to even meet with our clients or even talk
to them on the phone, because the government had control of these people.
And it was sort of an eye opener for me. What I realized was just really how much control
the government can have over the life of a person.
And without, I think, people interjecting or bringing litigation, they can just take
them to some, you know, Caribbean Island and do whatever they want with them.
So that was sort of a big lesson for me to learn how much control the government has.
So we get to the Supreme Court and, lo and behold, we actually win.
And this is the well-known Rasul case that came out in 2004 and was the first case in
which the Supreme Court said "The detainees at Guantanamo are entitled to challenge their
detention.” They are allowed to go into court and say,
"You've got the wrong guy. You made a mistake." or, "The law doesn't
support me being here.” And just, essentially, challenge their detention,
something that goes back to the Magna Carta, which we -- I think, under the Bush Administration
-- had just really thrown to the side, this idea of the rule of law.
So after the Supreme Court came out was the first time we were then allowed to go visit
our clients in Guantanamo. And so, the passage that I'm going to read
is about my first trip to Guantanamo two-and-a-half years after beginning the representation of
them. Okay.
[reading] Those first meetings with our clients at Guantanamo in which we played the DVD from
their families, introduced ourselves to them, and began the long process of getting to know
them were epic moments in my legal career -- in my life.
It was unlike any other client meeting I'd ever had.
Indeed, the last time I'd met with a client, I'd been sitting at the bar of the Four Seasons
in New York, because I represented 'evil' corporations.
Neil, Tom, and I – [talking] that was the three people -- Neil and Tom are my colleagues
at the law firm of Shearman and Sterling who are also on the legal team –
[reading resumed] Neil, Tom, and I had spent more than two years of our lives working upon
behalf of these men that we'd never met, and it felt strange to know 'of them', but not
to know them. We were brought into an interview room at
Camp Echo -- this is at Guantanamo -- where we found one of our clients sitting at a small
card table, handcuffed and chained to an O-ring bolted to the floor.
Suddenly, seeing a real person in front of me, I realized that until that moment, I'd
thought of our clients as a faceless group -- the twelve Kuwaitis -- like some forgotten
religious order. And they were forgotten, in a way.
Sometimes, I even thought of my client as being the 'rule of law', as that was often
how I tried to explain my work to the press and other audiences.
After meeting them, though, and putting faces with names, I'd never be able to think of
them that way again. They were people too.
And even though I'd known it all along, it had become a distant fact after months filled
with litigation, when any rare time to myself had been filled with enjoying my American
freedoms. Meanwhile, these men -- my clients -- were
being held as criminals, accused of nothing, and yet certainly suspected of much.
[talking] So that was the first trip to Guantanamo. And thereafter, I would take at least 15 or
16 trips to Guantanamo. The most recent being in April.
And every time I'd go, I'd learn something new from my clients, whether they'd tell me
of some abuse they'd been through while they were held in Bagram or in Guantanamo or I'd
be subject to some new rule. You know, one time -- in the beginning of
those visits -- we were allowed to go to the public library on the base; and then thereafter,
we weren't allowed to go to the public library. We were never explained why.
But this whole process was teaching me so much about, again, the power of the government,
and how it affects real people. And that was something that I learned sort
of in that moment was, the rule of law is so important to us as -- in America this idea
of the rule of law. And we sort of talk about it and Obama talked
about it a lot. But the import of that is that, it affects
real people -- real human beings. And it protects us, as well as people who
are at Guantanamo, who are foreign citizens. But I think the hardest visits that I had
at Guantanamo were when my clients were on hunger strike.
And they were hunger striking for a couple of reasons.
One, they were hunger striking to protest their conditions.
They felt they were not being treated humanely. And indeed, in the beginning of their stay
at Guantanamo, I learned that they had exercise 20 minutes a week.
That they weren't allowed any reading materials except for the Quran, which actually wasn't
even provided to them until several months after they'd been there.
That they'd been subject to interrogation, sleep deprivation, hot and cold extremes.
That they really were treated not like 'suspected' terrorists, but like terrorists.
And they'd never had a trial. And this went on for a very long time, this
sort of treatment. So I learned all of this.
They were protesting that. They were also protesting just the fact that
they had not been charged. And I had this one client who used to say,
"Just give my a trial. Just give me the chance to prove that I'm
innocent.” And people used to ask me at that time, "You
know, are your clients innocent?” And I said, "Well, give them a trial, and
we'll find out. If they're not innocent, we'll hang them up
by their toes.” But the whole point is to let them try to
prove their innocence. The whole point is to have a process whereby
you sort out the guilty from the innocent. And that was always what we were litigating
about and what the Guantanamo detainees were protesting about.
So they went on this hunger strike. At the height of the hunger strike, there
were probably 150 detainees on hunger strike, not eating, protesting their conditions and
the lack of trial. So, next passage is from that experience,
which was really quite traumatic for me, and I wasn't even on hunger strike.
[reading] I thought about Fouzi -- one of my clients -- and the other hunger strikers
who said they would rather die than eat. What that meant for Fouzi was -- if he got
his way, if his feeding tube was removed and he continued his hunger strike -- he would
die. And by the looks of him, I didn't think it
would take very long. It was pretty obvious to me that the only
thing keeping him alive was that feeding tube and he wanted to be rid of it.
[talking] As an aside, the Guantanamo health professionals had basically forced them to
eat, because they didn't want them to die. Meanwhile, they were torturing them on the
side. So a lot of the detainees were subject to
feeding tubes. [reading resumed] We were his lawyers.
We were supposed to be working on his behalf, in his best interest.
Shouldn't we be petitioning the court to stop the force feeding?
"If Fouzi wants to die," I said back in D.C., behind the closed doors of Tom's office --
again, Tom was the law partner I worked with on this case -- "we should let him die.”
I was devastated, but firmly believed that it should be Fouzi's right to determine his
fate should he decide to see his hunger strike through to the end.
It had only been a week since we'd been back from Guantanamo, and the shock of seeing five
of our clients on hunger strike, two of them dangerously close to death or serious illness,
had not left either of us. Tom didn't want to see Fouzi die either and
was just as determined to save him. "That's not what the families want, Kristine,"
Tom said. "I know, Tom, but who's our client here?
Is it Fouzi or his family? What about what Fouzi wants?”
"What are we going to do? Ask the Court to let him die?”
Tom was shouting. I shouted back, "Who are you to decide what's
best for Fouzi? Who made you God?”
And suddenly, I was crying too. And Tom jumped up to hug me.
Now, mind you, something -- this is a 'no no'.
In a big law firm, you don't do that, but Tom and I were human, and we were upset.
Tom and I both knew that we had an ethical obligation to do as our client wished, and
yet, we couldn't bring ourselves to be the ones to seal Fouzi's fate -- a slow death
in a cell at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.
Had we known we'd be having a conversation of this magnitude when we first met with the
Kuwaiti families, in which someone's life was in our hands, maybe we wouldn't have agreed
to take their case. But there we were, neck-deep in a case that
seemed impossible at every turn where every decision we made seemed to have either substantial
consequences or no impact at all on somebody else's welfare.
It was just getting to us. [talking] I think, now is a good time to answer
questions. Oh, yes. You must use that microphone.
You must use that microphone. Somebody must have some question.
Kim, you're supposed to -- oh, sorry -- yes.
>> [pause]
Q Testing. If you had to guess, What percentage of the prisoners that you saw at Guantanamo
bay would you say were guilty?
Kristine Huskey: Well, now, that's a good question.
I mean, like I said, in the beginning when I first started this representation, a lot
of people asked, you know, "Are they guilty? Are they innocent? Are your clients?”
You know, the truth is, in some ways all that -- the seven years of litigation -- was always
about whether or not the courts even had the authority to hear these claims, right?
So it wasn't until recently that the lawyers were even allowed to ask for discovery of
the evidence, which was supposed to prove that they were guilty or not guilty.
So it's really only in the last year that lawyers who represent the detainees are actually
getting documents, you know, notes of interrogations and such like that.
So from sort of a practical standpoint, if you'd ask me that question a year ago, I would
have said, "I have no idea.” But the truth is -- So, since in the last
year -- they're called habeas cases, right? 'Habeas' means the right to challenge your
detention, the writ of habeas in our Constitution, not to be suspended.
There have been 33 actual habeas cases, which means the lawyers went in and tried to prove
that they were innocent and the government went in and tried to prove they were guilty.
Out of the 33, 28 federal judges granted the writ of habeas, which means that they are
innocent. So I mean, that's a sort of astounding statistic.
I think another interesting point to follow up on that is, you know, back -- again when
I'm saying back in 2002 when they were talking about "All these terrorists at Guantanamo,"
this, that, and the other -- eventually it came out, based on the Department of Defense's
own statistical information that only five percent of the people at Guantanamo -- and
at that time it was about 400 -- five percent had actually been picked up by U.S.
forces. The other 95 percent were picked up by Pakistani
officials -- either military, or even just police.
Some had been turned over by villagers or Northern Alliance or Afghan local authorities.
So I think that's a big, you know -- when you ask the question, "How many are guilty?”
You start with that sort of statistic, and you think about, How can it be that with that
chain of custody in mind, that every single person who's at Guantanamo is guilty of terrorism?
Of course, as a good lawyer, I would never tell you what I think about my clients.
>> [pause]
Q Yeah. I wonder if it even matters at all if any of them are guilty.
Because that's not really the fundamental issue.
I mean, it's really unfortunate for some of the individuals if they happen to be innocent
and they're there, but there's a small number of them.
The real problem to me seems to be that the system has changed.
When I was a kid, I grew up mainly overseas. We were always being attacked by people for
being Americans and the rest. Well, my parents were always able to tell
me, you know, "We don't start wars without provocation.
We treat prisoners well. We don't torture.” This whole long list of things that -- even
if we were being criticized for things -- you could still hold your head up for being
an American, because being an American stood for something.
Unfortunately, I have a daughter today who comes to me and asks me questions about the
country, and I can't tell her the same things my parents told me.
Something changed fundamentally at Guantanamo, also Abu Ghraib and some other such things.
But Guantanamo was a really important one in that, sort of, our expectations of what
we do in conflicts are now different. It used to be, you'd have a war, you get prisoners,
and there were some rules in prisoners. You can't photograph them.
You've got to treat them nice. You let their officers have a role in the
community. Basically, you're just warehousing them until
the conflict is over and then you send them home.
And you're not allowed to torture them. And you got to feed them well and all the
rest. That sort of stuff. At least those were the rules that we had.
But now, we're making the distinction between what's a 'prisoner of war' and what's a 'terrorist'.
And terrorists, apparently, we can do strange things to that we couldn't do to prisoners
of war. And guys who seem like they should have been
prisoners of war are being terrorists etc. Anyway, you all went to court.
You had a bunch of things changed. But, what were you not able to fix?
How is our system different today after Guantanamo than it was before?
What have we lost?
Kristine Huskey: Well, you raise many good points and some which I should have hit on
in the beginning talking about Guantanamo. You know, one of the original problems of
Guantanamo -- like I said -- was, it was a legal black hole.
And what that really meant was, the Bush Administration was saying, "They're not prisoners of war.
And so, the Geneva Conventions don't apply, which are the set of international rules which
sort of govern how we treat prisoners when we're in a conflict.
And they're terrorists, but they're at Guantanamo, so Federal U.S. law doesn't apply.
And you're right. I mean, the issue -- the real issue -- is
that, you know, Guantanamo has sort of become a symbol for how the U.S. has changed.
I don't know if the world -- I think the world has changed some, with respect to how we look
at terrorism, preventive detention, the laws of war.
But, I think the U.S. changed the most, in part because of 9/11.
So, the issue has become -- and it's an issue now that's being debated by the Obama administration
-- that's something I think we all need to think about.
Do we sort of go back to pre-9/11 and we say, "Listen, if they're accused of being terrorists,
we have criminal laws that we've used in our courts -- in New York actually several terrorism
cases, and they were convicted. And they're serving in maximum security prisons.”
And that's sort of the pre-9/11 paradigm. Or do we have something that -- as I mentioned
as being sort of contemplated -- is this idea that you could have suspected terrorists who
aren't charged with terrorism. They're not in a law-of-war paradigm, because
they're not really in a traditional armed conflict.
And so, therefore we will detain them, because we're afraid they might commit some terrorist
act. And that is what's being -- as I said --
seriously considered by the Obama administration. So that, I think, is what has changed fundamentally.
Is this idea that we no longer can apply the traditional laws of war.
We possibly can't apply our U.S. criminal laws, antiterrorism laws.
And we're sort of now in this kind of middle course contemplating holding people, because
we 'think' they might do something bad or wrong.
And they're grappling with, Are there laws that support that?
So, go back to I think your second, or maybe third, question.
You know, What didn't we fix? Well, a lot. A lot.
There's still people at Guantanamo, although, you know, thankfully Obama came out and said
he's going to close Guantanamo. But I think that's sort of the biggest piece,
you know? The biggest piece is that somehow maybe we
weren't able to show -- to demonstrate -- how terrible it is to have a legal black
hole. How terrible it is not to have laws that apply,
such that they're now seriously considering preventive detention. You know?
And I agree with you. In the beginning, we used to talk about, How
could this be that we do not have the application of some kind of law here?
Because what brings us together in America as citizens and residents, you know, is not
that we have Coke and Levi's -- although that's certainly an American thing -- but it was
being so proud of our system, our democracy, our justice system.
We have one of the best justice systems in the world.
And you know, now that's changed. You know? That's changed.
>> [pause]
Q Hi. You've talked a little bit about how this whole experience made you realize just
how much power the government has. And how long it took for the courts to come
through and say, "Yes, the law does apply to these people.”
Years and years and years. So, I'm curious what your thoughts are --
and you can talk a little bit about -- what you feel that the role of the courts 'should
be' versus what 'it is'. Whether you think they should have more power
to affect what the president's doing, whether they should be able to act more quickly as
opposed to kind of the glacial pace they move at now.
Whether they should have jurisdiction over more areas like these kind of legal black
hole areas that they don't seem to be able to touch.
That's kind of open-ended.
Kristine Huskey: No. I mean, as a young lawyer, when I started doing this litigation, it was
-- every step of the way was sort of eye-opening. And starting at the lower court and finally
making your way up to the Supreme Court. You know, as you said, everything sort of
moved so glacially. And I just thought, "Geez," you know?
"Even if we win, it will be two-and-a-half years later.
And these guys will spend an important part of their life there.”
So part of me says, "It should be faster. The courts should have more power.
They should be able to do something faster." But another part of me really respects that
it is -- part of it is such a slow process because the goal is to let each party take
the time to brief everything and look at the law and for the judge to ponder it, give the
government a chance to possibly change its ways or put forward its reasoning.
And then you have the whole system of appeals, which -- in our case -- that was terrible.
It sucked. "Oh, we got to go to appeal.”
But if you think about it from the reverse, if you were -- let's say you were convicted
of something and you were innocent. And you were maybe sentenced to the death
penalty, you would want all those -- you want a chance to keep appealing and appealing.
So, I guess I go sort of both ways. I agree with you, "Oh, it's too slow."
But at the same time, I really do have great respect for our justice system which really
seems to give an opportunity to find the truth. And sometimes finding the truth can take a
long time, because you give a chance for all parties to weigh in.
And then you go to the next court. And then you do it all over again, and you
go to the next court. So a good example, while we were going up
to the Supreme Court -- sorry, after the Supreme Court -- and the Supreme Court had ruled and
we were going to Guantanamo, we learned all these things about -- they wanted to have
more reading materials and they wanted to have more exercise.
And then, they wanted to have this sort of scholarly commentary on the Quran.
And we petitioned the court for all this. And basically -- because the government said,
"No way. They don't get that. They don't get that.
Nope, nope, nope.” And the court -- you know what the court did?
It just ignored our motions. Which was devastating.
Q Hi. Thanks a lot. This is very fascinating stuff.
Kristine Huskey: Thank you.
Q Couple of questions. Do you think there are other black holes like
this in the world? Because I would certainly suspect that there
are. And to address earlier comments about believing
in America and 'all things American' being good, I grew up in that sort of, you know
-- as the offspring of the Golden Generation of the United States and believing all those
things -- but Vietnam pretty much nailed that box shut for me.
With recent events like Laura Ling and Euna Lee with North Korea, the hikers in Iraq/Iran,
other taking of individuals. Do you think the U.S. was using Guantanamo
Bay as sort of a collection of bargaining chips?
Like, "We're going to gather a bunch of people and use them if we need to, to negotiate some
sort of balance."?
Kristine Huskey: I mean, there definitely was -- at some point what they had -- what
they were called the CIA 'black sites', where they did bring -- and this sort of came out
after Guantanamo had come out, right? And so, we're looking at Guantanamo like,
"Oh, it's this legal black hole.” And then we find out there's sites that are
even more of a legal black hole than Guantanamo. Which is just, "What?!" you know?
And then it was during the Bush Administration that he said he was going to shut them down.
And actually, before -- in 2006, Congress passed a law about the military commissions
-- and, you know, what I think was in sort of a manipulative move -- moved a lot of the
detainees from these 'black sites' to Guantanamo and said to Congress, "Okay.
Now you have to pass this law, because now all these high-value detainees are there,
and they should be put through some sort of system.”
You know, throughout the seven-and-a-half years that I've been litigating and representing
detainees and working on these issues, every time something happens -- you know, when Abu
Ghraib came out and the black sites, you say, "Oh, it can't get any worse.
There can't be another breaking news story about what this government is doing with national
security and our rights.” But then it came out that they were wiretapping
American citizens, you know. So I'm sort of very happy with how the book
ended, because it ends with the Obama administration coming in and I say, you know, I have hope
-- of course, that's his catch phrase -- but so, I hope that we don't have those black
sites anymore. But in some ways, you can't really be sure
until you sort of find out. I think -- whether or not Guantanamo was a
bargaining chip. I would say during the Bush administration,
it probably was, to some degree. I feel, for me, I'm still sort of waiting
to see what the Obama administration does, how they handle certain things.
I think they're scrambling. Most recently, they were supposed to come
out with a report on how they're going to handle the detainees at Guantanamo.
What they were going to do with them. Whether or not they would have some sort of
preventive detention. And they -- basically, the task force came
out and said, "It's going to be delayed. It's going to be another six months.”
Which in another six months Guantanamo is supposed to be shut down.
So I think it really remains to be seen what the administration is going to do with a lot
of these issues. Hope I answered your question. Thank you.
Q Sort of affiliated to some of the previous questions.
What is your experience and opinion about how all this affected the international opinion
about the U.S. justice system both technically -- so, What are the laws?
Or What have U.S. changed? And more like politically or perceptionwise?
And related to this -- it's a technical question, because I don't know anything about law --
when in 2002, the judge agreed with the government that they cannot be sued in U.S. Court, did
you consider suing the United States in International Court?
Kristine Huskey: We did. I mean, the international book from the legal and the policy perspective
is very interesting. I think, from just a policy perspective --
and I've traveled overseas a lot, for my business and also just for fun -- the response
from the international community, I think, has largely been disappointment, disbelief,
you know, the U.S. used to hold itself out as the champion of human rights.
And people would say, "You know, how can we hold our heads up?”
It was something that was mentioned earlier. And the international community -- again,
from a policy perspective -- was like, "Now you can't really tell us what to do." Right?
From a legal perspective, there's been just a lot of criticism about the numerous violation
of international treaties by the United States. I mean, they've signed on to the torture against
convention. They've signed on to the Convention of the
Rights of the child. And, lo and behold, the U.S. had several children
under the age of 16 at Guantanamo detained with adult people.
They signed on to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.
And that, quite honestly, just -- and I think the Bush Administration really, quite frankly,
didn't give a damn about international law. And it just sort of went out the window.
But a lot of international lawyers were very concerned, because the U.S. was always a leader
in international law in getting other countries to sign on to these treaties that were so
important, right? And the interesting thing about sort of the
international aspect of it is that -- from what I hear.
This is a little bit of gossip and rumor -- many U.S. officials who were in power during
the Bush administration are afraid to travel overseas, because there's this concept of
'universal jurisdiction', which means if you've committed war crimes and you're in a country
that believes in universal jurisdiction, the Spanish authorities can arrest you and put
you in a trial in their courts. And so, I hear that a lot of the U.S. Bush
officials will not travel to Italy or Spain or anywhere in the E.U.
And recently, Italy indicted eight CIA agents -- they were not in Italy at the time, but
they basically sort of put out a E.U.-wide warrant for their arrest, saying these eight
CIA agents were in Italy and I think kidnapped individuals and brought them to either, you
know, Bagram or Guantanamo or one of these other black sites.
Did I answer your second question? Okay. Thank you.
>> [pause]
Q I have one follow up question to the previous question.
So, you mentioned that Guantanamo was this black hole of a kind, and you hope that there
would be no more black holes like these. But, when you look at it, it seems essentially
that, after 9/11, it turned out that the Constitution and the laws are more or less quite malleable
in the sense that you can justify quite a lot of things by saying, you know, the executive
branch basically has the right to do quite a lot of things.
And I just wonder if you feel there's anything which could be done to amend this system to
make sure that things like this could not happen in the future?
Because while there was a Supreme Court decision which made some progress, but essentially,
it seems like these things -- there isn't like a black wall put in the past which would
guarantee that such things couldn't occur in the future.
Kristine Huskey: No, that's, I mean, one of the big criticisms of the Bush Administration
-- among others -- was the sort of abuse of executive power.
And they sort of became inflated with this idea that Bush was the executive.
"It's a national security crisis, I can do anything.”
But I think they really took it quite far. And they had lawyers who would write long
legal opinions -- just like you said -- about how it was justified, how it really was legal,
and that it wasn't a violation of the Constitution. Well, you could take the view of Shakespeare
who said, "Kill all the lawyers. Then you wouldn't have legal opinions backing
that up.” But -- that was a joke -- but, you're right.
It's both a problem and a great thing about this country though is, we have the Constitution,
which has been called -- it's a 'living document', right? which means that it changes with the
time. Some of the Supreme Court opinions, you know,
about discrimination are vastly different from 1918 in the Dred Scott case to Brown
v Board. So the fact that it's not 'hard and fast'
has allowed great things in this country, but at the same time has allowed terrible
things to happen. So, I think it is in many ways something that
points to, We have to really hold officials accountable, because I think that's really
the solution. I don't know that we could pass a law that
would change the Constitution. In some ways, I think that might come back
to hurt us to have a hard and fast rule. I think it means holding officials -- whether
it's your state representative or your representative on the Hill in Washington to the President
-- holding them accountable as a people. Because the Constitution is supposed to protect
us, not the executive branch. So I know that doesn't sound like a very easy
solution, but I think in some ways to me, that would be my preferred solution.
>> I think we're going to wrap it up. Kristine is going to hang around if you want
to ask her some more questions, or she can sign your book if you'd like.
But thank you, everybody, for coming.
>> [Clapping]
Kristine Huskey: Thank you.