Guantanamo, From The Inside Out

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Mahvish Khan is the American daughter of Afghan immigrants. As a law student at the University of Miami, she wanted to do something to help both her country, and her parents' country, after 9/11. She decided to put her Pashto-speaking skills and knowledge of Afghan culture to good use as an interpreter for defense attorneys representing men held at Guantanamo's detention center. After many visits to the camp, Mahvish began to see the detainees as more than mere numbers — they became her friends, and surrogate brothers and fathers — prisoner No. 1154 became Ali Shah Mousovi, detainee No. 1009 became Haji Nusrat. She chronicles their stories, and gives a detailed account of what Gitmo looks, tastes and smells like, in her new book, My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me. If you have questions about what life is like for detainees and lawyers at Guantanamo Bay, leave them here.

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A caller just called to say that the people in Guantanamo should have no rights because they are not Americans. That is just crazy. Thomas
Jefferson wrote in our country's Declaration of Independence, "that all men are created equal". This should include people from other countries. After all, the people in Guantanamo are not their under their own choice. Each time we mistreat a prisoner or war or "enemy combatant", we threaten our own sons and daughters being tortured when
they are captured or kidnapped in other countries.

Sent by David Ano | 3:31 PM | 7-21-2008

I often hear "Why do we offer these Terrorists trials?" The question ignores the fundamental reason for these "liberties." The reason is that we want Americans accused of "spying" or other accusation to be tried and proven guilty or innocent. We do not want to be held for years in prisons of foreign governments without a chance to prove innocence.

Sent by Jim Schuster | 3:39 PM | 7-21-2008

How can you apply criminal standards to POWs ? Particularly in this type of war or conflict ? I understand the vast majority of fighters are part-time warriors who otherwise maintain their regular lifestyle. Isn't also likely POWs who are guilty of terrorist acts have been released due to lack of evidence rather than being guilty ? How can you expect to apply criminal standards to a war ? Unfortunately Ms Kahn is advocate rather than presenting a balanced view. It would seem her loyalty rests more with her Afghan brothers than the American people. I lost faith in the U.S. Supreme Court when the appointed little Bush to a second term. Their decision regarding the detainees only added to my believe that a bunch of old men and woman are so out of touch with real life it would be funny if not so tragic.

Sent by Michael | 3:41 PM | 7-21-2008

Was this piece really just a promo (free advertising) for the book publisher and author? Or maybe there's a movie in the works with blockbuster written all over it. Here's a for-sure fact, the media moguls have never heard of a horror story they couldn't turn a profit on.

Sent by Lewis | 10:59 AM | 7-22-2008

i agree with commentor david ano. that one caller was really ignorant. if these people are locked up by americans, if americans dont give them a trial, how will they ever get out if they are innocent? pakistan sells random people for money to americans.

Sent by gabrielle | 12:19 PM | 7-22-2008

Interpreters are bound by a code of ethics to maintain confidentiality. Speaking about the substantive issues (even with permission) of what was interpreted is damaging to the profession of legal interpretation. We work very hard, and our job is extremely difficult. Exposes such as this undermine our efforts to be respected.

Sent by Elisa M. Gonzalez | 9:00 AM | 7-23-2008

Writing about the truth does not undermine our efforts,it will help restore our image around the world.We talk about human rights around the world but fall short ourself.Providing justice for all will help enhance the image of this great nation.It takes courage and a true patriotic spirit to be able to point ones shortcomings.There is nothing great about finding fancy names like water boarding and frequent flyer program for torture.

Sent by Shahida Khan | 7:46 PM | 7-29-2008

RE Gonzalez' comment: I read My Guantanamo Diary. Its a fabulous book and the author (who is also an attorney) clearly had the consent of both prisoners and attorneys-- she was clearly aware of when the privilege was waved. It is unfortunate that Gonzalez cant appreciate that wealth of information and the bravery the author had in writing this powerful account. More exposures like this might undermine Gonzalez' self worth but it will bring our country back to the right track.

Sent by jill youmans | 11:36 PM | 7-29-2008