Can Guantánamo Exist in a Democracy Committed to the Rule of Law?

September 28th, 2006 by Adam

Plymouth State University will join Seton Hall Law School and more than 200 colleges and universities in presenting a nationally simulcast “Teach-In” about the detention facility at Guantánamo from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Thursday, October 5. The program will be sponsored by two student organizations, PSU Democrats and the Model United Nations Club, in the multipurpose room at the Hartman Union Building (HUB), on High Street in Plymouth.

Dr. Sheryl Shirley, associate professor of social science at PSU says, “This is the first national conference to study the government’s unprecedented detention of hundreds of individuals described as ‘enemy combatants,’ and is made even more timely by President Bush’s recent announcement regarding the transfer of 15 more detainees to the Guantánamo Bay facility.

Inspired by the techniques of teach-ins of the 1960s but utilizing the technology of the present, the conference speakers will include an impressive list of academics, journalists, military officers, theologians, human rights activists, lawyers for detainees, and released detainees.

The daylong simulcast, which is organized around a series of panel discussions, will allow participants to explore two overriding themes: whether Guantánamo can exist in a democracy committed to the rule of law, and whether and how various communities—journalists, theologians and physicians—should respond to this unprecedented governmental action.

“The Guantánamo Teach-in is a unique opportunity for students and citizens across the country to fully grasp the meaning of Guantánamo—not only for the detainees but for all Americans,” said Alan Sussman, professor at Bard College and Teach-In co-chair.

Panel sessions include:

10 – 10:45 a.m. Session 1: “A Guantánamo Primer” by Joseph Margulies, author of the recent and acclaimed, Guantánamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power

10:45-noon Session 2: “Journalists Look Behind Wire”

12:15-1:30 p.m. Session 3: “Medical Professionals and Guantánamo”

1:45- 3 p.m. Concurrent Sessions

Session 4: “Religious Communities”

Session 5: “American Detention Policy”

3 – 4:15p.m. Session 6: “History of Torture in the Modern World”

4:30-5:45 p.m. Session 7: “The Military and Commander in Chief”

6 – 7 p.m. Session 8: Closing Guantánamo and American Foreign Policy

Speakers include:

• Joe Margulies, professor of law at Northwestern Law School, lead counsel in Rasul v. Bush and author of Guantánamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power.

• Jane Mayer, New Yorker, author of several major articles on elements of the administration’s detention policy.

• Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald, the first print journalist allowed to report from Guantánamo.

• Adam Zagorin, Time, Mr. Zagorin and his colleague Michael Duffy were the first journalists to reveal the details of an interrogation at Guantánamo.
• Walter Pincus, who has reported on the history of coercive interrogations for the Washington Post.

• Rear Admiral Donald Guter (Ret.), dean of Duquesne Law School; Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Navy from 2000-2002.

• Commander Charles Swift, who started the Hamdan litigation as military defense counsel to Mr. Hamdan two years ago.

• Capt. James Yee, former chaplain at Guantánamo and author of For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire.

• Dr. Gerald Koocher, president of the American Psychological Association
• Leonard Rubenstein, Physicians for Human Rights.

• William H. Taft IV, former chief legal adviser, U.S. State Department.

Additional program information can be found at A Guantánamo Teach-In blog also has been established at to review and discuss the issues surrounding Guantánamo prior to the Teach-In.

The public is invited to attend the simulcast at Plymouth State University, in the Multipurpose Room on the second floor of the Hartman Union Building. Free parking and shuttle service are available. Contact Nick Gunn, president of PSU Democrats, at (603) 996-1918 or for a parking pass.

Editors: The Teach-In also will be accessible to the media on the Internet on a limited basis through a code obtained from Kathleen Brunet Eagan at (973) 642-8724 or at Seton Hall Law School.

Plymouth State University (PSU) is a regional comprehensive university offering a rich, student-focused learning environment for both undergraduate and graduate students. PSU offers 42 majors and 62 minors in programs that include education, business, humanities, arts, and natural and social sciences. The College of Graduate Studies offers coursework that promotes research, best practices and reflection in locations on- and off-campus as well as online. For non-traditional students, PSU’s Frost School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers working professionals opportunities to pursue an undergraduate degree by attending classes in the evenings, weekends and online. Located in a beautiful New England setting, Plymouth State University has been recognized as one of the “Best in the Northeast” by The Princeton Review.