310: Habeas Schmabeas

310: Habeas Schmabeas

Mar 10, 2006
Winner of a 2006 Peabody Award. We've also broadcast an updated version of this episode, "Habeas Schmabeas 2007."

Listen to a special, uncut version.

Download a transcript.
The right of habeas corpus has been a part of our country's legal tradition longer than we've actually been a country. It means that our government has to explain why it's holding a person in custody. But now, the War on Terror has nixed many of the rules we used to think of as fundamental. At Guantanamo Bay, our government initially claimed that prisoners should not be covered by habeas—or even by the Geneva Conventions—because they're the most fearsome enemies we have. But is that true? Is it a camp full of terrorists, or a camp full of our mistakes?
  • Joseph Margulies, a lawyer for one of the detainees at Guantanamo, explains how the detention facility there was created to be an ideal interrogation facility. Any possible comfort, such as water or natural light, is controlled entirely by the interrogators. (3 minutes) Criminal JusticeLegal SystemTerrorism

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  • Jack Hitt explains how President Bush's War on Terror changed the rules for prisoners of war and how it is that under those rules, it'd be possible that someone whose classified file declares that they pose no threat to the United States could still be locked up indefinitely—potentially forever!—at Guantanamo. (26 minutes).

    Clarification: When Seton Hall professor Baher Azmy discusses the classified file of his client, Murat Kurnaz, he is referring to information that had previously been made public and published in the Washington Post. That material has subsequently been reclassified. Criminal JusticeLegal SystemTerrorism

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  • Habeas corpus began in England. And recently, 175 members of the British parliament filed a "friend of the court" brief in one of the U.S. Supreme Court cases on habeas and Guantanamo—apparently, the first time in Supreme Court history that's happened. In their brief, the members of Parliament warn about the danger of suspending habeas: "During the British Civil War, the British created their own version of Guantanamo Bay and dispatched undesirable prisoners to garrisons off the mainland, beyond the reach of habeas corpus relief." In London, reporter Jon Ronson, author of Them: Adventures with Extremists, goes in search of what happened. (7 minutes) Criminal JusticeHistoryLegal System

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  • Although more than 200 prisoners from the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay have been released, few of them have ever been interviewed on radio or on television in America. Jack Hitt conducts rare and surprising interviews with two former Guantanamo detainees about life in Guantanamo. (20 minutes) Criminal JusticeLegal SystemTerrorism

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