On 11 January 2021, the eyes of the world will focus on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when the most long-awaited, high-profile criminal trial in U.S. history is scheduled to commence. This revived interest in Guantanamo has triggered a need for a definitive, authoritative resource for anyone who wants to go beyond news reports, snippets and images, to better understand the Guantanamo phenomenon, in all its human and legal complexity, from its creation and operation through its future prospects and historical significance.
The Guantanamo Bay Reader: Voices Shaping and Living the Gitmo Experience Under Bush, Obama and Trump is just that authoritative, comprehensive resource.
Twenty years after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Khalid Shaik Mohammad and four other alleged 9/11 co-conspirators will have their day in court. Family members of the 2,977 people killed on 9/11 will have waited 20 years for justice. Guantanamo prosecutors, defense counsel and judges, U.S. military and other officials, and many others with stakes in Guantanamo – including the defendants – have all endorsed an end to the protracted legal proceedings, and this closure is slated to be through trial by military commission, with a military judge, military jury, and military rules.
But, this 9/11 trial is only part of the Guantanamo phenomenon, that was created before the 9/11 trial was envisioned, and will continue long after the 9/11 trial.
The Guantanamo Bay Reader offers an informed introduction and comprehensive treatment of the full Guantanamo experience that will be valuable to anyone from newly arrived neophytes to those already conversant. It presents legal, historical, ethical, moral, political and personal issues raised by Guantanamo, covering the creation, maintenance, attempt to close, and possible expansion of Guantanamo’s detention facilities, the establishment and operation of its U.S. Military Commissions, and the wide array of Guantanamo stakeholders — the countless men, women and children and groups around the globe who are directly or indirectly, voluntarily or involuntarily, part of the Guantanamo phenomenon.
The Reader is divided into two Parts: Part I (Voices) and Part II (Documents).
Part I of II — The Voices of Guantanamo
Many individuals — stakeholders — are directly and indirectly affected by Guantanamo, or have Guantanamo involvement, and have shaped and lived and are currently shaping and living the Guantanamo experience.
Part I of the Reader captures experiences of and candid professional and personal perspectives of all categories of Gitmo stakeholders, including prisoners, prison guards, military counsel (defense and prosecution and habeas), military commission judges, victims and their families (VFMs), media, witnesses, prison staff including chaplains and physicians, non-governmental organization (NGO) observers, government officials (under Bush, Obama and Trump), inter-governmental organization representatives (e.g., the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights), and many others.
These voices are presented in a form accessible to newcomers or legal experts. The Reader is well-suited for academics, media, military personnel, 9/11 victims and their families, detainees, students of law or political science or other disciplines, and the general public.
Part II of II — Guantanamo Primary Documents
Part II of the Reader is a trove of primary official and unofficial documents that complement, support, and at times contradict the Part I voices, and that shed light on the law, policies and practices that underlie the experiences imparted in the Part I stories.
These documents include: binding bilateral treaties (including the 1903 treaty between Cuba and the U.S. that the U.S. relies upon for its ability to operate a naval station on Cuban soil); multilateral treaties (e.g., the Geneva Conventions, the UN Convention Against Torture); U.S. statutes; U.S. Supreme Court cases on Guantanamo; Military Commission governing documents and court rulings; Executive Orders of Bush, Obama and Trump; U.S. government documents related to the creation and operation of Guantanamo and related to torture; CIA time logs of enhanced interrogation techniques such as water boarding used on prisoners at CIA black sites; documents produced by groups representing victims of attacks; provisions of the U.S. Constitution; and documents related to aspects of Guantanamo unrelated to the prisoners or commissions, such as Gitmeow, which was established at Guantanamo to help counter the feral cat issue on the island base.
These Part II documents are a useful resource for anyone wanting to delve more deeply into issues presented by Part I voices.
Commentary Introducing the Voices and Documents
The various voices in Part I and the documents in Part II are elucidated by brief introductions and commentary that provide clear context.
This selective commentary throughout the Reader places the voices and documents into historical, political, and legal context, explaining the web-like inter-relationships between and among the different stakeholder groups.
The voices and documents are arranged according to group membership or subject matter chapters, with commentary introducing each chapter. Within each chapter, each voice or document is preceded by its own specific introductory comment, encased in a shaded textbox. Readers of the Reader will be easily guided to subject matter of interest to them, given the Reader’s clear, accessible structure – discrete chapters with plentiful, highlighted commentary – coupled with significant internal cross-references and a generous Index.
Accessibility of the Reader
The Reader’s simple format renders it easily accessible to all, who will benefit from editorial commentary preceding each Part I voice and Part II document, charts and images, and extensive cross-referencing.
In addition, newcomers to the topic might benefit from useful tools in the Reader, such as its extensive abbreviation list, given the military’s extensive use of acronyms. The Reader also has a detailed, comprehensive glossary that defines esoteric military and legal terms, place names, military commission jargon, and other terms that appear in the Reader but may not be well known to many readers. The comprehensive index facilitates cross-referencing for different streams of information.
The Reader’s Guantanamo Timeline, which appears in the Appendix, provides context, beginning with Christopher Columbus’ two visits to Guantanamo, through the Spanish American War after which Cuba leased Guantanamo to the U.S., through strained relations between the U.S. and Cuba regarding Guantanamo after Fidel Castro came to power, through the opening of the detention facilities on 11 January 2002, through today.
Though no book can serve the needs of all readers, the Reader provides an unprecedentedly broad, illuminating and thorough examination of the phenomenon that is Guantanamo.
The Reader’s encyclopedic, wide-sweeping range of voices and documents form a comprehensive, one-stop resource essential, for newcomers and experts alike – for anyone interested in learning about Guantanamo, and examining it from multiple perspectives, with a post 9/11 emphasis.
The Reader offers an authoritative snapshot of Guantanamo pre-911, Guantanamo as suspects (“detainees” / “prisoners”) began arriving on 11 January 2002, Guantanamo policies and practices over the last 15 years, and Guantanamo’s future.
The Reader is a must read resource for anyone interested in any aspect of the Guantanamo Bay phenomenon.
Author / Editor
The Reader is written and edited by Professor George E. Edwards of Indiana University McKinney School of Law, who has over 15 years of Guantanamo Bay experience in multiple capacities.
Professor Edwards was the first U.S. legal expert witness permitted to travel to Guantanamo Bay for a proceeding of the first completed U.S. Military Commission since World War II.
At the request of a Pentagon official, Professor Edwards was the leader of a legal research team on issues related to over 500 Guantanamo Bay prisoners, and he subsequently led research teams on two different Guantanamo cases.
Professor Edwards served as an objective media representative conducting research at Guantanamo, and currently serves as a neutral, objective, and independent U.S. Military Commission Monitor (NGO Observer) overseeing the dispatch of dozens of monitors traveling to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Ft. Meade, Maryland and other military installations to monitor U.S. Military Commission hearings, and traveling to the Pentagon to monitor Guantanamo Periodic Review Boards (PRBs).
Professor Edwards designed the Guantanamo Bay Military Commission Observers Challenge Coin (with suggestions / comments by other stakeholders).
Professor Edwards has authored various Guantanamo Bay publications, including Know Before You Go to Guantanamo (which is a manual / guide used and relied upon by many categories of stakeholders who travel to Guantanamo Bay for military commission hearings and other purposes), and the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual.
Professor Edwards founded the Military Commissions Observation Project and the Guantanamo Bay Periodic Review Board (PRB) Monitoring Project of Indiana University McKinney School of Law, which operate the website http://www.GitmoObserver.com.