Dicky Grigg in his Austin office: “It’s about the rule of law?’ photo by Chris Carson Dicky says he also learned his client had been subjected to “all kinds of advanced interrogation techniques” but says he “showed no emotion about that.” The client broke down in tears just once: when he described to Dicky his shame, as a Muslim, when his American captors made him stand naked in front of a woman. “We don’t have any concept what that’s done to America’s moral authority in the Muslim world,” Dicky says. Of course, by now you’ve probably heard that Vice President Cheney’s “enhanced interrogation techniques”the sleep deprivation, the exposure to extreme cold, the forced standing for interminable periodshave been rejected by the American military as producing unreliable intelligence. Turns out water-boarding is a really bad idea, despite what your veep might have told you: one of the Pentagon’s own lawyers has called its use “torture?’ Dicky, and his fellow members of the Guantanamo Bay Bar Association, believe that Gitmo was created to avoid our federal courts, where such abuses would have been exposed and condemnedyears ago. That’s a view also held by a man Dicky calls “a real hero?’ retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, who lost his job after doing his job representing detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan before the U.S. Supreme Court. “Those military lawyers are the real heroes?” says Dicky, who downplays his own contribution to protecting the detainees. “They spoke out, knowing they would be fired.” It didn’t take the Obama administration long to figure out that Guantanamo’s sole purpose appears to have been circumventing habeas corpus. On his first day in office, your successor signed directives ending “enhanced interrogation techniques” and vowing to close Guantanamo. \(Of course, three U.S. Supreme Court decisions had already repudiated your administration’s claim that detainees had no right to hearings in federal court, but that didn’t seem to persuade you Soon, it appears, the Obama administration will relegate Guantanamo to history. As you work on your presidential library, you must be realizing that one of the first questions historians will have about your administration is why. Why did Guantanamo happen? Historians could start with these two answers: “The whole purpose of Guantanamo is for torture,” Swift has said. “Why do this? Because you want to escape the rule of law. There is only one thing that you want to escape the rule of law to do, and that is to question people coercivelywhat some people call torture. Guantanamo and the military commissions are implements for breaking the law?’ But you have to appreciate Dicky Grigg’s blunt, if profane, West Texas-style explanation, too. He summed it up this way, when during one visit at Gitmo, his client emotionally wondered aloud why he had landed in such a terrible predicament. “Because George Bush is an asshole,” Dicky replied. It didn’t translate perfectly in Pashto, but close enough to communicate moral certainty, with clarity. Sincerely, Patricia Kilday Hart has covered Texas politics since 1981. FEBRUARY 6, 2009 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15
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