Saturday, May 23, 2009

Zendran colleague on guantanamo/media matters killed, odd timing

I only recieved this news a few hours ago. Mike Bhatia and I were involved in the watson institute's participation at the Seton Hall guantanamo teach in on October 5, 2006. It was at this event where it was revealed that most of the guantanamo detainees were NOT terrorists and did not belong there, and strategies of releasing detainees was discussed, including repatriating detainees and shutting down guantanamo. What was discussed at this event where the basis for the executive order closing guantanamo originated. Also odd was the timing of his death, weeks after my confrontations with brown/watson, while he was working in Afghanistan. Mike Bhatia worked to call attention to american depredations on Afghans and other people, and was one of my few remaining supporters who had any affiliation with brown/watson. Notice how the details of his death are not publicized and how news of his death was kept low key, which is one reason I only learned about it recently. If anyone supports the release of guantanamo and other wrongfully detained people in american custody they owe Mike one. Below is info about that Seton Hall guantanamo event and news regarding Mike Bhatia's death.
Peter Khan Zendran

Guantánamo: How Should We Respond? Symposium
Thursday, October 5, 2006

Related Person
Michael Vinay Bhatia '99

With more than 200 schools in at least 44 states already participating, "Guantánamo: How Should We Respond?” is an unprecedented collaborative effort among representatives from academia, journalism, religion, medicine and the military in exploring the government’s detention policy and practices in the “war on terror.”


• An open-door, day-long videoconference of a nationwide “teach-in” from 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM

• A live panel discussion at 5:45 PM featuring Sarah E. Havens ‘99, an attorney representing Guantánamo Bay detainees, introduced by Watson Visiting Fellow Michael Bhatia ‘99

• An online discussion already in progress here.

Seton Hall will host an all-day conference available at academic institutions across the United States to study the national and international implications of indefinitely detaining hundreds of individuals deemed "enemy combatants."

Guantánamo: How Should We Respond?” has taken on increased importance since President George W. Bush’s announcement on September 6 that fourteen suspected terrorist previously held in secret United States facilities abroad will be transferred for trial by military commission at Guantánamo. This decision casts into question both the meaning of a fair trial in that setting, as well as the failure of the government to bring charges against the vast majority of the present detainees.

At the Watson Institute, participants are invited to join the videoconference any point in the day. (See tentative schedule, below.)

Live Panel
At 5:45pm, participants are also invited to a live discussion about the prisoners and their legal issues at the Watson Institute, “Lawyering in Guantánamo: Representing ‘Enemy Combatants,’” featuring Sarah E. Havens ‘99, an attorney representing Guantánamo Bay detainees, introduced by Watson Visiting Fellow Michael Bhatia ‘99.

Sarah E. Havens currently represents 11 Guantánamo Bay detainees in their federal habeas corpus case, also serving as an associate in the litigation department of Allen & Overy LLP in New York. Proficient in Arabic, she has traveled repeatedly to the Guantánamo Bay detention facility and to Yemen to interview detainees and their families. Prior to joining Allen & Overy, she worked at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the American University in Cairo, both in Egypt. A 1999 honors graduate of Brown University, she received her JD cum laude from Georgetown in 2003.

Location: Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street.

Tentative Schedule (as of 9/28/06)
Session One: Opening Remarks – 10:00-10:45
• Welcome: Mark P. Denbeaux - Professor, Seton Hall Law School
• Introduction: Baher Azmy - Professor, Seton Hall Law School
• Guantánamo: A Primer on the Administrations Detention Policy - Extraordinary Rendition, CIA & Military Detention, and Military Commissions: Joseph Margulies, Esq.- Clinical Professor, Northwestern University School of Law, and Author of Guantánamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power

Session Two: Journalists Look Behind the Wire – 10:45-2:00
• Moderator: Jack Hit, New York Times & Harper's Magazine
• Jane Mayer - Journalist, New Yorker
• Carol Rosenberg - Journalist, Miami Herald
• Adam Zagorin - Journalist, Time Magazine

Habeas Interlude: Force Feeding – 12:00-12:15
• Julia Tarver Mason, Esq. - Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, LLP

Session Three: First, Do No Harm: Medical Professionals and Guantánamo – 12:15-1:30
• Moderator: Brigadier General (Ret.) Dr. Stephen Xenakis, M.D.
• Leonard Rubenstein - Physicians for Human Rights
• Gerald Koocher, Ph.D. - President, American Psychological Association
• Jonathan Marks - Professor Pennsylvania State University

Habeas Interlude: Insults to Religion – 1:30-1:45
• Thomas Wilner, Esq - Shearman & Sterling

Concurrent Sessions Four & Five
Session Four: Matters of Faith: Guantánamo and Religious Communities – 1:45-2:45
• Moderator: Ingrid Mattson, Ph.D., Professor of Islamic Studies & Director of Islamic Chaplaincy, Hartford Seminary
• Captain James Yee - Author: For God and Country
• Rev. George Hunsinger - Professor, Princeton Theological Seminary
• Rabbi Michael Feinberg - Executive Director, Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition

Habeas Interlude: Suicide – 2:45-3:00
• Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, Esq.- Dorsey & Whitney

Session Five: American Detention Policy: The Next Frontier – 1:45-3:00
• Moderator: Jonathan Hafetz, Esq. - Brennan Center for Justice, NYU Law School
• Gitanjali Gutierrez, Esq. - Center for Constitutional Rights
• John Sifton - Human Rights Watch
• Margaret Satterthwaite - Professor, NYU School of Law

Session Six: History of Torture in the Modern World – 3:00-4:15
• Moderator: Joseph Margulies
• John Conroy - Journalist, Chicago Reader, & Author: Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics Of Torture
• Alfred McCoy - Professor, University of Wisconsin & Author: A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation from the Cold War to the War on Terror
• Walter Pincus - Journalist, Washington Post
• Craig Haney - Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz

Habeas Interlude: Innocents at Guántanamo – 4:15-4:30
• Baher Azmy, Professor, Seton Hall University School of Law

Session Seven: The Military and the Commander in Chief – 4:30-5:45
• Moderator, Ronald W. Meister, Esq. - partner at Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, P.C., New York City
• Rear Adm. Donald Guter (Ret.) - Dean Duquesne Law School
• Commander Charles Swift - Counsel, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld
• Colonel Dwight H. Sullivan - USMC, Chief Military Defense Counsel, Military Commissions

Live Session at Watson: Lawyering in Guántanamo: Representing ‘Enemy Combatants’ – 5:45-7:00
• Moderator, Watson Visiting Fellow Michael Bhatia ‘99
• Sarah E. Havens ‘99, an attorney representing Guantánamo Bay detainees

More information

Event Summary
Sarah E. Havens ’99 has spent eight weeks at the Guantánamo Bay detention center since January 2005 meeting with her clients, 11 Yemeni detainees. “The accommodations for legal teams there feel like a second home to me, unfortunately,” she said at the Institute last week. The Institute’s videoconference of a day-long nationwide teach-in about Guantánamo Bay culminated in a first-hand account of life there as a defense attorney.

The lawsuits she filed argue for habeas corpus (the right to hear the charges and evidence for which you have been arrested), but with the lack of legal recourse available to these men, Havens is as much someone to talk to or to show up with some Starbucks as she is a defense counsel. She has met with the families of all of her clients, and she often carries words of greeting and stories to various family members. In one case, she located the father of a client whom they had not been able to contact. He had assumed his son was dead until Havens and her partner brought news.

Havens took the case for her firm in January 2005, as she was the only one proficient in Arabic. Havens said that the work has taught her the value of due process and put a human face on men who have, without trial, already been labeled “the worst of the worst.” She brought pictures of her clients and their families to share, which were harshly juxtaposed with images of a large group of detainees bound and hooded “like a bunch of chickens.” In general, Havens’ clients won’t talk about the harsh treatment or torture they have undergone. “This is a private, shameful thing for them,” she said. They would prefer to talk about lighter things.

Take Fahmi Abdullah Al Tawlaqi, accused of being a supply truck driver in Yemen. Havens described him as a diminutive joker who dreams of returning to Yemen to become a rap star (having learned American rap from the guards) or Riyad Ataq Ali Abdoh Al Haj, who is accused of being a nurse at a Taliban hospital and was originally arrested because of a name mix-up. From her personal experience, Havens says that most of these men are victims of circumstance rather than vicious potential terrorists, and she is discouraged by the lack of due process offered them.

The push for a legal venue for these men has been difficult. Although detainees are now allowed to attend their hearings, says Havens, once they find out the charges against them, they are often told that the evidence is classified, and so there is no way to respond. Havens has been frustrated by the lack of effort on the part of the tribunals to call defense witnesses, some of whom are other detainees.

Havens says she has also had difficulty with a lack of cooperation from the US government. Correspondence of any kind with her clients is virtually impossible because it is regarded as classified. (She must go to Washington, D.C., to read their emails.) And so she must travel to Guantánamo in person. Once there, she must stay on the other side of the bay and does not have much time with her clients. “Even if I get up extremely early, I’ll probably have about five hours with one client,” she said.

Havens is skeptical that her clients will ever receive habeas corpus hearings because the evidence against the detainees would be either insufficient or inadmissible because it was obtained using torture. The best case scenario in her view would be repatriation. “My clients would like to be in a prison where the guards speak their language, and where no one will make fun of them for praying,” she explained. As Yemenis, however, her clients may not get this opportunity because the US does not trust the Yemeni government to securely hold transferred prisoners.

Submitted by Watson Institute Student Rapporteur Liana Paris ’07

In Memory of Michael Vinay Bhatia '99Related Project
Cultural Awareness in the Military

Listen to a broadcast aired by NPR.
Read a eulogy from Michael's sister Tricia here.
A tribute from advisor, colleague, and friend Jarat Chopra is available here.
Oxford University's St. Antony's College has posted a tribute page here.
The family-placed obituary and guest book are available here.
Read Michael's personal photo essays here.
Read a statement from the US military here.
A news article about his death is here.
A co-authored 2004 article on peace efforts in Afghanistan is available here.
Read a UN statement given by Michael as an undergraduate here.

Michael Bhatia
May 26, 2008

Michael Vinay Bhatia ’99 died May 7 in Afghanistan, where he was working as a social scientist in consultation with the US military.

In addition to graduating magna cum laude in international relations from Brown University, Michael was a visiting fellow at the Watson Institute from July 2006 to June 2007. At the Institute, he was involved in a research project on Cultural Awareness in the Military, writing his PhD dissertation, and teaching a senior seminar on "The US Military: Global Supremacy, Democracy and Citizenship."

Over several years, Michael’s research and humanitarian work took him to such conflict zones as Sahrawi refugee camps, East Timor, and Kosovo, in addition to Afghanistan.

Of his work in Afghanistan, Michael wrote in November: “The program has a real chance of reducing both the Afghan and American lives lost, as well as ensuring that the US/NATO/ISAF strategy becomes better attuned to the population's concerns, views, criticisms and interests and better supports the Government of Afghanistan.”

Michael had recently published some of his research on Afghanistan.

His co-authored book on Afghanistan, Arms and Conflict: Armed Groups, Disarmament and Security in a Post-War Society was just released by Routledge in April. It assesses small arms and security-related issues in post-9/11 Afghanistan.

His edited book on Terrorism and the Politics of Naming was published by Routledge last September. Stating that names are not objective, the book seeks the truth behind those assigned in such cases as the US hunt for al-Qaeda, Russia’s demonization of the Chechens, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In August, his personal three-part photo essay, “Shooting Afghanistan: Beyond the Conflict,” was published by theGlobalist. In it, he wrote:

“Afghanistan will soon reach a desperate milestone – the thirtieth anniversary of ongoing conflict. … Though I have spent the majority of my time there researching the wars and those involved in it, conflict is not my primary memory and way of knowing it. I am compelled to write about experiences and ideas that cannot be placed into analytical paradigms, which do not speak to theories of war or peace, to destruction or to reconstruction, but instead to daily interactions that occurred in the course of research.”

His love of photography is revealing. In theGlobalist piece, he also wrote:

“Building on Robert Capa’s statement that 'If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough,' James Nachtwey, the preeminent photo-realist and conflict photographer, once indicated that the primary characteristic of a good war photographer was proximity, closeness and involvement.”

Michael was a doctoral candidate in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. He was awarded a George C. Marshall Scholarship in 2001 and a Scoville Peace Fellowship in 2000, supporting residence at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, DC.

He was working on his dissertation, titled “The Mujahideen: A Study of Combatant Motives in Afghanistan, 1978-2005,” based on 350 interviews with combatants throughout Afghanistan, as well as archival and media research. He has also conducted research in Afghanistan for the Overseas Development Institute, the Small Arms Survey, the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, the UK Department for International Development (via the International Policy Institute, King’s College, London), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Before his fellowship at the Institute, he was a sessional lecturer on the causes of war in the Department of Political Science at Carleton University in Ottawa.

He is the author of War and Intervention: Issues for Contemporary Peace Operations (Kumarian Press, 2003); and of articles in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Global Governance, Review of African Political Economy, The International Journal of Refugee Law, International Peacekeeping, and Middle East Policy. He was the guest editor of The Third World Quarterly Special Issue: “The Politics of Naming: Rebels, Terrorists, Criminals, Bandits and Subversives,” which was then released as a book by Routledge. He received his MSc in international relations research from the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford.

“It's a terrible loss of someone so young, who had already accomplished a great deal, but had so much more to contribute,” said Institute Professor Thomas J. Biersteker, who advised Michael in his studies over the years.

Michael's funeral Mass was held on Friday, May 16, at 10am at St. Joseph’s Church, 151 Village St. in Medway, Massachusetts. Donations in Michael’s memory may be made to the Michael V. Bhatia Memorial Fund c/o Rockland Trust Company, 288 Union St., Rockland, MA 02370.

Colleagues gathered at the Watson Institute for a quiet reflection on Michael’s life on Monday, May 19. The University, together with the Class of ’98, also held a vigil and tree planting in the Institute's garden on Saturday, May 24. A small exhibition of Michael’s photography from Afghanistan will be open from 5pm, on the Institute's second floor.


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