Matthew Diaz served his country as a staff judge advocate at GuantÃ¡namo. He watched a shameless assault on Americaâ€™s Constitution and commitment to the rule of law carried out by the Bush Administration. He watched the introduction of a system of cruel torture and abuse. He watched the shaming of the nationâ€™s uniformed services, with their proud traditions that formed the very basis of the standards of humanitarian law, now torn asunder through the lawless acts of the Executive. Matthew Diaz found himself in a precarious positionâ€”as a uniformed officer, he was bound to follow his command. As a licensed and qualified attorney, he was bound to uphold the law. And these things were indubitably at odds.
* * *
One of the crimes the Administration committed was withholding from the Red Cross a list of the detainees at GuantÃ¡namo, effectively making them into secret detainees. Before the arrival of the Bush Administration, the United States had taken the axiomatic position that holding persons in secret detention for prolonged periods outside the rule of law (a practice known as â€œdisappearingâ€) was not merely unlawful, but in fact a rarified â€œcrime against humanity.â€ Now the United States was engaged in the active practice of this crime.
The decision to withhold the information had been taken, in defiance of law, by senior political figures in the Bush Administration. Diaz was aware of it, and he knew it was unlawful. He printed out a copy of the names and sent them to a civil rights lawyer who had requested them in federal court proceedings.
* * *
Diaz spent six months in prison and left it bankrupt and without a job. In addition to his sentence, the Pentagon is working aggressively to have Diaz stripped of his law license so he will not be able to practice his profession. The Bush Administration has sought to criminalize, humiliate and destroy Diaz. Its motivation could not be clearer: Diaz struck a blow for the rule of law. And nothing could be more threatening to the Bush Administration than this.
* * *
In the week in which Diaz received the Ridenhour Prize, another Pentagon â€œsecretâ€ was disclosed. This â€œsecretâ€ was a memorandum made to order for William J. Haynes II, Rumsfeldâ€™s General Counsel, and the man at the apex of the Pentagonâ€™s military justice system that tried, convicted and sentenced Diaz. The memo was authored by John Yoo. This memorandum was designed to authorize the introduction of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading interrogation techniques to be used upon prisoners held at GuantÃ¡namo, and ultimately also used in Afghanistan and Iraq. The memorandum authorized waterboarding, long-time standing, hypothermia, the administration of psychotropic drugs and sleep deprivation in excess of two days in addition to a number of other techniques. Each of these techniques is long established as torture as a matter of American and international law. The application and implementation of these techniques was and is a crime.
* * *
Following the implementation of these techniques, more than 108 detainees died in detention. In a large number of these cases, the deaths have been ruled a homicide and connected to torture. These homicides were a forseeable consequence of the advice that Haynes and Yoo gave.