In a New York Times article: This is what I learned from defending the Guantanamo prisoners

This article appears in the New York Times (New York Times) about the experience of an American lawyer and what he learned from defending prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.

Marine Major Aaron Shepherd, a US Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, began his article with a story that occurred in August 1944 of an American soldier, Louis Cooperberg, who wrote to his sister Eleanor in Brooklyn about his experience treating wounded Nazi soldiers. On the battlefront, he said, “I gave them the same care and treatment that I give our soldiers, and yet, all along I know that these same men murdered my cousins, aunts, and uncles in Poland, tortured and murdered without remorse, and despise me for being a Jew, but I treat them.”

Major Shepherd commented that Private Cooperberg served everyone in his care as equals, and that this spirit reflected the best of American values: recognizing humanity in everyone, even with enemies, and treating those in our custody with dignity and respect.

He added that many people turned away from these values ​​after 9/11. All over the world, American agents arrested people on flimsy allegations of terrorist activity and drove them to secret black sites, where they were subjected to years of torture or what they metaphorically called enhanced interrogation. Eventually, many detainees are taken to the Guantanamo Bay detention center, which was set up for this purpose in Cuba 20 years ago.

American leaders often justify moral deviations in these black sites and in the Guantanamo prison as an end that justifies the means, but even if we leave the sides of the immoral or illegal means – as the lawyer says – it has proven that the ends are ineffective and counterproductive, which prompted this country to more Incursion into the path of eternal war and countless losses.

Shepherd pointed out his assertion at a recent hearing in Guantanamo that immorality cannot be ignored, as a Pakistani man (Majid Khan) spoke at that hearing about brutal beatings, physical abuse and other inhumane treatment, which he said he suffered at the hands of American interrogators.

After hearing Khan, a jury of senior military officers condemned their government’s behavior, writing in a letter to the court that the treatment of the detainees was “a disgrace to the morality of America” ​​and “should be a source of shame for the American government”, and found that his treatment was closer to ” The torture practiced by the most arbitrary regimes in modern history.

The lawyer explained that his clients did not express anti-Semitism or hatred towards him because he is Jewish, and said that he and his colleagues are helping these men, not because they support the crimes they allegedly committed, but because they believe that America must abide by the highest standards of public morals and human rights.

He adds that – as a lawyer and a military officer – he remains committed to defending his clients, a task that is in line with the ethics and constitution of his country.

He concluded his article by saying that as an American you know that everyone has fundamental and affirmative rights, and that the protection of fair trials and due process and the prohibition of cruel and exceptional punishment must be observed regardless of the alleged crimes.

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