Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Soldier at Guantanamo...

The following are some excerpts from the recent New York Times article about Lt. Cmdr. Mathew Diaz who defied his military superiors to give a voice to those detained at Guantanamo Bay. It's uplifting to know that there are people on the inside who are willing to break the rules to stand up for human rights.

“Well into the night of Sunday, Jan. 2, 2005, lt. Cmdr. Matthew Diaz sat alone at his desk in the headquarters of the American detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, consumed with a new project.”

“But the task that absorbed Diaz that night in January was taking him down a different path. Sitting at a secure desktop computer, he printed out page after page of classified information, pulling each batch from the printer in case anyone wandered by. When he was done, Diaz had assembled a document 39 pages long. In tiny type, it listed names, prison serial numbers and other information for each of the 551 men who were then being held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay.”

“Now, Diaz knew he was crossing a line. For nearly two weeks after printing the list, he kept it locked inside the safe in his office. On another late night, he carefully trimmed the pages down to the size of large index cards. Then, on Jan. 14, the last night of his tour, he went back to the office one more time. While his colleagues were getting ready for his farewell dinner, he slipped the stack of paper inside a Valentine’s Day card he had bought at the base exchange. It was an odd touch. The card showed a cartoon puppy with long ears and bubble eyes and the greeting, “Hope Valentine’s Day is just your style.” Diaz would later say that he chose it because it was big enough to hold the list. He also hoped the lipstick-red envelope might pass unscrutinized through the Guantánamo post office.”

“It hardly occurred to the lawyers that someone inside the detention-camp headquarters might be trying to help them, Olshansky told me not long ago. For all the public debate about Guantánamo, there was little sign that members of the military were defying their superiors. Uniformed lawyers who had been assigned to defend some of the prisoners before military commissions had begun criticizing the rules for those tribunals, but that dissent was explicitly tolerated by the Pentagon. Some Muslim servicemen at Guantanamo, including an Army chaplain, Capt. James Yee, had been investigated on suspicion of disloyal conduct. But that episode and the others seemed to suggest more about the high-security atmosphere of the camp than it did about any internal opposition to how the prisoners were treated. The valentine was different: no one had taken the law into his own hands quite like this.”

“As he lay in bed at night, Diaz said, he thought about the risk he would be taking if he went ahead. Over the previous year, the military had prosecuted or disciplined several servicemen for taking classified materials off the island. Security had been tightened. The Guantánamo counterintelligence officer slept in the next bedroom of the town house Diaz shared with several midlevel officers. The career for which he had worked so hard would be on the line. He was within striking distance of a promotion to commander, or of retiring with an officer’s pension.”

“On May 18 this year, after a weeklong trial, a panel of seven naval officers convicted Diaz on four of five counts, including one of disclosing secret defense information that “could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation.” By then, nearly two and a half years after Diaz had left Guantánamo, the politics of detention policy had shifted. The detainees’ names had been released under the Freedom of Information Act. The Supreme Court had ruled against the administration once more, upholding the minimum standards of the Geneva Conventions and derailing the military commissions. The president declared that he would like to close Guantánamo as soon as possible.”

Read on here:

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