Advancing a Free Society

Duke Law Discussion of Theater Detention Operations

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Some time back, I spoke at a panel at Duke Law School on detention policy alongside, among others, Michael Gottlieb, who had just completed a fourteen month tour as the top civilian official in Task Force 435 in Afghanistan. As I noted at the time, I found Gottlieb’s remarks especially valuable. Indeed, I have never seen or heard a richer account of detention operations in Afghanistan. I asked him at the time to write up his remarks for posting to Lawfare, but because he was soon to return to a position in the White House Counsel’s office, this proved to be impossible. So instead, I took the liberty of having his remarks transcribed and have posted them here, with some stylistic edits and some edits he felt necessary to correct inaccuracies and to provide greater clarity or context to certain passages of his spoken remarks. They provide, in my judgment, an excellent window onto a truly under-discussed aspect of the detention debate. Audio of the entire panel, which also included valuable contributions from Bobby and from Columbia law professor Trevor Morrison, is available herefor those readers who want to hear the whole thing. I have not included all of Gottlieb’s remarks–merely those that describe the problems and practice of theater internment operations–and as I say, we have adapted the transcript somewhat to make it more readable and precise. I have included other people’s remarks only where necessary to explain the context for Gottlieb’s comments. I have also been asked to emphasize that Gottlieb was not employed by the federal government when he made his remarks, and that in making his remarks he was speaking for himself rather than his former employer (the State Department) or his current one (the White House

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