FEATURE AAAPke.614At &eteA., Welcome back to Texas! I think I speak for many, many, many fellow Texans when I say that, as I watched your helicopter lift off from the White House lawn on Jan. 20, I was overcome with joy that you would soon be returning to the Lone Star State. I look forward to seeingyou refocusing your energies in Crawford with cycling and what-not. And don’t forget the cedar-clearing: That should keep you plenty busy! At some point, I imagine you might want to make the drive south on 1-35 to your old stomping grounds in Austin. When you do, you might be surprised at what you hear. You’ve lived in an echo chamber up there in D.C., surrounded by Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Co., for the last eight years. A road trip might broaden your horizon as you reflect on the “moral clarity” you believe you demonstrated during your years in office. Speaking of moral clarity, there’s someone I’d like you to meet: Dicky Grigg. Like you, he’s a good ol’ West Texas boy, but with a rather different take on your presidency. In a legal paper titled, “Guantanamo: It’s Not About ThemIt’s About Us,” he argues that your administration brushed aside “longstanding principles of human rights recognized by civilized countries all over the world,” and in so doing enabled “our enemies to take the moral high ground from us.” Maybe this will sound like the usual liberal talk to you. But Dicky, who practices law in Austin, doesn’t come across as your stereotypical human rights activist. He grew up in Lubbock and played defensive tackle for Texas Tech, back in the day, he likes to say, when “normal-sized humans” played college football. He works in an unpretentious building just off 1-35, in an office cluttered with Red Raider paraphernalia and bookcases lined with old Copenhagen tins. He’s about as unlikely a fellow as you can imagine to be spending his time defending terrorists; after all, he jokes, his Lubbock high school’s “Pashto Department was very weak.” But in 2005, he was attending a legal seminar and heard an appeal from the Center for Constitutional Rights to assist in the defense of the approximately 770 terrorism suspects housed at Guantanamo Bay, none of whom had legal counsel or had their cases reviewed by an impartial court. If you meet Dicky, he’ll probably acknowledge that he joined what’s become known as the Guantanamo Bay Bar Association because he was constantly “belittling” your administration. “It was a way for me to put my money where my mouth was:’ he says. He quickly learned, though, that Guantanamo Bay was not “a partisan issue:’ At a two-day seminar with other volunteers, he was surprised to learn that “a majority of the other lawyers were from big conservative business law firms:’ From their disparate political backgrounds, they were united in their commitment to one thing: “It’s about the rule of law.” After that brief orientation, Dicky faced a lot of hurdles before he could actually see the first of three clients over a three-year period. He’s spent, at last count, $40,000 of his own money for the privilege. \(That’s cash: He’s contributed much more if you First, the FBI had to conduct a background check. \(Dicky claimed to his friends that the FBI was screening him because you were considering appointing him to the federal bench. D.C., to a secure facility where he was allowed to review information about his first client but not allowed to take notes. Next, he flew on a 10-seater airplane out of Fort Lauderdale for the three-hour flight to Guantanamotaking the long route to avoid Cuban air space. Once at the base, he and his interpreter had a military escort as their constant companion. Security was tight; everything was searched thoroughly. Finally, Dicky met his first client, who, at that point, had been an American prisoner for three and a half years. In a stark white room the size of a one-car garage, the man was chained at the hands and shackled to the floor. Knowing it would be extremely difficult to earn the man’s trust, Dicky apologized to him. “I told him what the American government had done to him was wrong, but that a lot of Americans felt it was wrong. He said, ‘Would you write that down?’ and so I did.” Dicky soon learned his client still viewed him, and probably all Americans, with distrust. Having contacted his client’s family, Dicky obtained a picture of his children: “nine little kids in the dirt in a Pakistan refugee camp.” His client showed no emotion and claimed he didn’t know the children in the picture. “Until we gained his trust, he wouldn’t acknowledge the picture,” Dicky recalls. “That left the deepest impression.” He soon learned his client had been a regional commander in the Afghan army. Like 86 percent of the detainees, Dicky’s client had not actually been captured by American forces but had been turned over to the CIA for cash. Apparently, the CIA was handing out money like candy, actually promising informants in bounty fliers “wealth and power beyond your dreams:’ It turns out that some people will do anything for a buck. In Dicky’s client’s case, somebody motivated by an old grudge lied to the CIA about himand was paid handsomely for it. “You could turn in your enemy and get paid for it,” Dicky says. \(Apparently this happened a lot: The New York Times just ran a story about a man who was turned in to the CIA by a competitor who wanted his job. While the man sat in Guantanamo on phony charges, this so-called informant not 14 THE TEXAS OBSERVER FEBRUARY 6, 2009
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