Amnesty International Speaker to Lead Guantanamo Discussion

by Katie Pyzyk August 29, 2012 at 11:15 am 5,809 32 Comments

Although the term “gulag” typically evokes images of Soviet forced labor camps, a former member of the U.S. Army will be speaking in Arlington about how she believes the term could apply to an American entity — Guantanamo Bay.

The Amnesty International NOVA Cluster is hosting a discussion led by Lt. Col. Lorraine Barlett, titled “Guantanamo: An American Gulag.” Lt. Col. Barlett recently retired from the Army after 27 years of service with the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps., and served as counsel for a long-term prisoner incarcerated at Guantanamo.

Although closing Guantanamo was one of President Obama’s goals, the prison is still open and continues to fuel political disputes. Lt. Col. Barlett will speak on her views of the prison and its implications for U.S. and international law.

Those interested in attending the discussion should meet at the Central Library auditorium (1015 N. Quincy Street) at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 10. Refreshments will be provided for attendees.

  • George

    I thought Obama was going to close that death camp. I thought Obama was going to recall all of our forces out of the oppression we have forced on the middle east.

    • novasteve

      You obviously didn’t listen to him, you were probably too intoxicated by hopey changey. He said he was going to step up Afghanistan.

      • if only people stood up and protested the patriot act. if only.

  • MB

    Very interesting. On my calendar.

  • CBV

    There are so many people who were at Guantanamo as part of their military careers who have now stepped out and up to decry what they saw. It’s difficult to be steeped in a system, and then come to the hard realization that it’s all wrong. It’s telling that so many have. I look forward to hearing Lt. Col. Barlett.

    • Quoth the Raven

      And a far greater number who say that the prisoners are treated fairly and humanely. Whether or not they should be there in the first place is a different question, of course, but those who are there are being well treated.

      • brif

        googling the phrase “gitmo detainee abuse” returns numerous examples of abuse.

        • Mr. Brown

          It returns allegations of abuse, the vast majority of which were never proven. Those that were proven are more related to violating a detainees religious sensibilities… like having to be touched by female guards.

        • NoVapologist

          Googling the phrase “UFO new jersey” returns numerous examples of space aliens invading the U.S.

    • novasteve

      Wow, thank God the military wasn’t full of people like this during WW2 otherwise we would have lost the war.

      • Eamon De Valera

        It would have been hard to lose WWII. Our superiority in arms and men, combined with our enemies strategic inertia and insanity, was overwhelming.

      • drax

        It WAS full of people like that in WWII though.

        For instance, we didn’t torture in WWII – we tried our enemies for torture. We did send Japanese to camps, but we apologized and built a memorial later.

        We got much better intelligence back then:

        “When about two dozen veterans got together yesterday for the first time since the 1940s, many of the proud men lamented the chasm between the way they conducted interrogations during the war and the harsh measures used today in questioning terrorism suspects.

        Back then, they and their commanders wrestled with the morality of bugging prisoners’ cells with listening devices. They felt bad about censoring letters. They took prisoners out for steak dinners to soften them up. They played games with them.

        “We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture,” said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess.

        Blunt criticism of modern enemy interrogations was a common refrain at the ceremonies held beside the Potomac River near Alexandria. Across the river, President Bush defended his administration’s methods of detaining and questioning terrorism suspects during an Oval Office appearance.

        Several of the veterans, all men in their 80s and 90s, denounced the controversial techniques. And when the time came for them to accept honors from the Army’s Freedom Team Salute, one veteran refused, citing his opposition to the war in Iraq and procedures that have been used at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. ”


        Gitmo and torture and abuse are more likely to lose us this “war” not win it.

        • CBV

          Eisenhower said that we would have remained in the war much longer if we had treated prisoners badly…they knew they could surrender to us, or desert, and not be mistreated.

          • geshundheit

            Is that for Germans only? Curious.

            I thought he Japanese hardly ever surrendered as it would be dishonorable, and towards the end they used suicide attacks. It took two nukes to get them to surrender. Were Japanese prisoners treated worse than German ones?

          • Westover

            Yes, Japanese prisoners were treated far worse than Germans.

        • Westover

          It should be noted that MANY different tactics were used in the different theaters of WWII, and within theater different tactics were used on different prisoners. Dr. Kolm can only speak to the process used with one particular non-military high ranking politician. Apples and oranges.

          • drax

            We prosecuted water-boarding as a war crime.

  • novasteve

    Can I take it these “soldiers” support Bradley Manning? Can that question be asked of them so people can take that into account whether to take them seriously or not?

    • Steve

      I certainly wouldn’t take them seriously if they didn’t.

    • torsionbar

      Anyone who respects Bradley Manning’s disgusting actions is an idiot. Mr Manning ought to be locked away for life. Most other nations would give him the death penalty.

      • drax

        This has nothing to do with Manning, and steve knows it. He’s just trolling as usual.

    • drax

      No, you cannot take anything.

  • should have never happened to begin with. and those responsible for it should be in prison, instead they are laughing all the way to the bank.

    • Quoth the Raven

      All the way to the bank? Who got rich off of Gitmo?

      I don’t believe that Gitmo was a great solution, but it was the best of a bad lot. What else were we (US) supposed to do? Kill the suspected terrorists outright? Ignore them? Give them to countries that would just summarily execute them? It’s an incredibly difficult issue, which, silly campaign promises aside, has been made clear to the current administration, as Gitmo remains open.

      • novasteve

        Yes, apparently it’s worse to keep them alive at gitmo than it is to just kill them based upon the lack out outrage over the drone killings, but the outrage ove rbush and waterboarding.

        • Eamon De Valera

          That is true. It is much easier to Kill them than to Capture them, because than you have to figure out what to do. Obama team knows that well.

        • drax

          We prosecuted Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American POWs for war crimes.

          Should we now apologize to Japan?

      • Dick Cheney

        I did…oops did I really say that out loud? Damn this new heart!

      • bman

        yeah, killing them would be more compassionate.
        take no prisoners in war. just leave’em dead.

  • Kate

    Thanks for the heads up about the event. Lt. Col. Barlett also has an article on USA Today that might be of some interest to folks:


  • Manish Nandy

    The event on 10 September, when Lt Col Lorraine Barlett will be speaking at the Arlington Central Library, is important because we would have the chance to hear from a person on the spot — a distinguished attorney of the well-known JAG corps, no less — exactly what is happening in Guantanamo.

    The comments, pro and con, show how little we know about it, and how ready we are to go by preconceived bias.

    Here we will have the opportunity to hear from a professional person, on our side, the unvarnished truth.

    I hope some people will have the sense to come and hear her instead of just expressing half-baked prejudices.

    Personally, I was in Guantanamo, on behalf of the US Government, and I am eager to know more.

  • spetz-not

    According to her numbers, we’ve had 800 prisoners in Gitmo over ten years, with 127 still there. She compares Gitmo to the Gulag, where about 1.5 million people *died.* That’s a wildly inaccurate comparison that cuts into her credibiliy IMO.

    Just because she spent some time in Gitmo (how much of that one year of hers did she spend in the prison?), doesn’t necessarily mean her truth is *the* truth. She’s against the Patriot Act and hoped Gitmo would be closed two years before she even took an assignment there, which shows preconceived biases of her own.

    I plan to attend to see what she has to say, but will take it with a grain of salt.


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