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Peter Jan Honigsberg
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Peter Jan Honigsberg is a professor at the University of San Francisco, School of Law.
His book, Our Nation Unhinged: The Human Consequences of the War on Terror (University of California Press) will be published in spring 2009.
Honigsberg visited Guantanamo as a journalist in May 2007, and wrote a piece on the bizarre application process for the Huffington Post.
He has also written, “Chasing Enemy Combatants and Circumventing International Law: A License for Sanctioned Abuse,” published in the UCLA International Law and Foreign Affairs Journal and on

Entries by Peter Jan Honigsberg

Don't Let Fear Lead Us to Repeat the Mistakes of Guantanamo!

(0) Comments | Posted November 28, 2015 | 2:28 PM

Within the past month, we have seen the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, claim responsibility for blowing up a Soviet airliner in Egypt; killing 40+ people in Lebanon; and triggering the deadly attacks and killings in Paris, where at least 130 people died and 200 were injured....

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How Guantanamo Was Chosen

(1) Comments | Posted April 27, 2015 | 12:33 PM

People have known for years that the Bush administration chose the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2001 because it was not on American territory. American officials believed, based on a WWII Supreme Court decision, that detainees held offshore would not have the constitutional right to challenge their detentions...

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The Real Origin of the Term 'Enemy Combatant'

(0) Comments | Posted January 9, 2014 | 8:51 AM

For over a dozen years, since the attacks on 9/11, a new and pernicious term has permeated the war lexicon and the mainstream: enemy combatant. Although originally intended as the United States' designation for al Qaeda and Taliban captives, it is now often indiscriminately applied to alleged terrorists...

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9/11: A Mystery to the Young

(15) Comments | Posted September 10, 2013 | 6:41 PM

Recently, a local high school girl I will call Lisa interviewed me for a report she was doing on torture. I am the founder and director of the Witness to Guantanamo project, where we film in-depth interviews of former detainees, their family members and people who have lived or worked...

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A Darkening Cloud Hangs Over Guantanamo

(0) Comments | Posted May 1, 2013 | 5:34 PM

President Obama said at his news conference yesterday, "I continue to believe that we've got to close Guantanamo." He then added, "Congress determined that they would not let us close it."

Unfortunately, the president's comments are misleading. Congress may have passed the legislation to make it more difficult to...

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In Guantanamo, Obama's Promise of Hope Has Transformed Into Hopelessness

(0) Comments | Posted March 29, 2013 | 10:48 PM

Over the past several weeks, the media has covered hunger strikes in Guantanamo. The coverage suggests that the military has interfered with the detainees' Korans, causing the detainees to respond with hunger strikes. As of March 26, it is unclear how many men are refusing to eat. The...

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The Defining Moment of the Decade

(0) Comments | Posted September 7, 2011 | 5:00 PM

To many people, the defining moment of the first decade is the attacks on 9/11. But, of course, it is not the attacks that defined us as Americans. Our response defined us. When we look back at 9/11, we must look at who we were the day before the attacks...

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Coping With Loneliness in Guantanamo

(0) Comments | Posted August 19, 2011 | 1:48 PM

Can a person held in a prison cell among neighbors who do not speak his language be as lonely as someone who is held incommunicado in an isolation cell? That question arose in the interview of a former detainee we filmed for the Witness to Guantanamo project (W2G). (Presently, W2G...

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Without Human Rights We are Just Another Country

(15) Comments | Posted March 14, 2011 | 1:57 PM

This past week President Obama affirmed what many people expected. Although the president had proclaimed soon after he was elected that he would shut Guantanamo Bay Detention Center within one year, he has now confirmed that the prison will remain open for the foreseeable future. Consequently, a significant...

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A Legacy

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2010 | 1:40 PM

On a steamy and stormy Saturday in late August 2010, I joined 200 friends and family members of Robert (Bob) Hicks as we celebrated the naming of "Robert (Bob) Hicks" street in Bogalusa, Louisiana. The ceremony was inspirational. But, my meeting with his grandchild after the ceremony is a memory...

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Transforming Lives on This Side of the GTMO Wire

(2) Comments | Posted October 7, 2010 | 9:19 PM

Much has been written on the lives of detainees in Guantanamo post September 11, 2001. But relatively little has been written about the lives of Americans who worked on this side of the wire. In the Witness to Guantanamo project,, we have filmed in-depth interviews of former...

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Dignified, but Broken

(0) Comments | Posted August 30, 2010 | 3:47 PM

A friend said that she recently saw photos of men who had been incarcerated at Guantanamo prison and that the photos expressed each man's human dignity. I, too, have seen the dignity in each of the twenty-four former detainees we have interviewed on film for our Witness to...

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Stateless Pawns in the Global Game of the Superpowers

(3) Comments | Posted January 11, 2010 | 7:23 PM

The Witness to Guantanamo Project (W2G) just returned from filming interviews with the Uyghurs in Palau. The project has been conducting in-depth (2 ½ hour) videos of former Guantanamo detainees around the world, with the intent of documenting the systematic human rights abuses and rule of law violations committed in...

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The Witness to Guantanamo Project: In-Depth Filmed Interviews of Former Guantanamo Detainees

(2) Comments | Posted September 7, 2009 | 7:09 PM

"The first day I was at Guantanamo, they put me in a little cage. There was a toilet hole and I thought this is the bathroom and they will then take me to my cell. Later, they brought me food. 'Why food?' I thought, 'This is a bathroom.' Only the...

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I Debated a War Criminal

(0) Comments | Posted April 24, 2009 | 2:09 PM

I Debated a War Criminal
Professor Peter Jan Honigsberg

In September 2005, the Federalist Society at the University of San Francisco School of Law, where I teach, invited me to debate Professor John Yoo of Berkeley Law School on the legitimacy of the term "enemy combatant." Professor Yoo had...

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Establishing a Truth Commission for Guantanamo

(0) Comments | Posted January 10, 2009 | 1:23 PM

There has been much talk in the media lately promoting the possibility of establishing truth commissions for Guantanamo. Suggestions have predominately focused on Congressional investigations, similar to the recent Senate committee determining that the torture at Guantanamo was directed by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and other administration officials, or the...

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A Bumpy Application to Guantanamo

(6) Comments | Posted July 16, 2007 | 6:54 PM

A fellow law professor cautioned me when I told him I was applying to visit Guantanamo. "After they strap you in, they announce that the next bathroom stop is at Guantanamo. There are no bathrooms on the ten-seater propeller aircraft. And the bumpy flight is over three hours."


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