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Focus on Justice Series Digs into Guantánamo: 18 Years and Counting

Event Date:

June 9, 2020 | 12:30 PM EDT
Guantánamo Bay detainees sit in a holding area at Camp X-Ray on January 11, 2002. Image courtesy of the Pentagon by Shane T. McCoy.
Guantánamo Bay detainees sit in a holding area at Camp X-Ray on January 11, 2002. Image courtesy of the Pentagon by Shane T. McCoy.

New York Times journalist Carol Rosenberg and David Cole, national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), join in a conversation on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, about Guantánamo, civil liberties, capital cases, and more as part of the Talks @ Pulitzer Focus on Justice online series. 

In the aftermath of 9/11 and the pronouncement of the 'war on terror' by then President George W. Bush's administration, the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, opened on January 11, 2002, with 20 prisoners. Today, there are 40. While exact figures are not available, by some accounts approximately 780 men and boys have been held at the site.

Rosenberg has reported on Guantánamo since before those first 20 men arrived. She is the only reporter to cover the prisoners and war court there continuously, and has spent well over 1,000 nights at the remote base.

Among the questions Rosenberg and Cole consider:

  • How has covering Guantánamo changed over the years – from a front-page story to a largely forgotten prison.
  • What is the impact on prisoners to be held for years, with no end in sight?
  • What is the status of the prisoners at Guantánamo accused of capital crimes?
  • How have human rights violations including indefinite detention without trial and torture been investigated?

Rosenberg has been reporting on the U.S. base and prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, since 2002 for The Miami Herald. In 2019, thanks to a unique collaboration between The New York Times and the Pulitzer Center, she joined that newspaper to continue reporting from Guantánamo. For her Guantánamo coverage, Rosenberg has received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the ABA Silver Gavel among other honors.

In his role as the ACLU's national legal director, Cole directs a program that includes approximately 1,400 state and federal lawsuits on a broad range of civil liberties issues. Cole, who has litigated numerous constitutional cases before the Supreme Court, is currently on leave from Georgetown University, where he has taught constitutional law and criminal justice since 1990, and is the Hon. George J. Mitchell Professor in Law and Public Policy.

Cole's 2016 book, "Engines of Liberty: How Citizen Movements Succeed," examines the strategies civil society organizations employ to change constitutional law.

Jon Sawyer, founder and executive director of the Pulitzer Center, joins this conversation that launches the Pulitzer Center's online Talks @ Pulitzer Series Focus on Justice


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