Ronald Rotunda is the Foundation Professor of Law at the George Mason University Law School. He is one of the most prominent scholars of constitutional law and legal ethics in the United States. A look at his Web page shows that, in addition to his scholarly attainments, he is also distinguished within the legal profession by a good sense of humor.
In order to help the Defense Department sort out some of the difficult legal issues it confronts in the war, he recently served a year as the special counsel to the general counsel of the department. Yesterday the Sueddeutsche Zeitung published an edited version of Professor Rotunda’s column on the American detention facility in Guantanamo, a subject of Professor Rotunda’s work as special counsel. Professor Rotunda’s column was translated into German for him by a German law professor and edited by the newspaper.
Professor Rotunda describes the Sueddeutsche Zeitung as comparable to the New York Times — Germany’s most liberal daily, with a subscription base of one-and-a-half million readers. Though I may be mistaken, it occurs to me that the some of the information Professor Rotunda presents in this column hasn’t appeared in English in America’s New York Times and would in any event be of interest to our readers. Professor Rotunda has kindly provided us the original version of his column “Guantanamo, another story”:
The news media prominently publicize the mistakes that the United States has made while conducting its war against terror, and they should, because newspaper criticism is an important check on the abuse of power. The recent publicity surrounding the abduction of the Lebanese-born German national, Khaled al-Masri, is an example. Because terrorists, contrary to the Geneva Conventions, do not wear uniforms or other insignia visible from a distance, civilians are put at risk. In this case, Macedonian police apparently turned over al-Masri to agents of the Central Intelligence Agency because the police and agents mistook him for an al Qaeda operative with a similar name. Then, it appears that they wrongly imprisoned him for several months in Afghanistan until they discovered their mistake.
While we should know about such blunders, there is another side of the story — what the United States is doing in its prison in Guantanamo Bay. I visited several times and was given complete access to all parts of the base I cared to see. I visited the prisoners