Read the full comments from lawyers and legal scholars below.
"The Response" is a superb film that dramatically illustrates many of the complex dilemmas of U.S. government detention operations. At a time when many important legal and policy issues of counter-terrorism and detention are still being worked through by all three branches of government, and when overheated rhetoric dominates the airwaves, this film stands out for its careful nuance and thoughtfully provocative presentation. I intend to use it with my law students, and I urge other educators to consider using it as well. The filmmakers and cast do a masterful job in portraying this difficult subject matter.
Matthew C. Waxman, Esq. Associate Professor, Columbia Law School Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs (2002-04)
In creating "The Response," Sig Libowitz has advanced the discussion of national security and the law by leaps and bounds and made the important issues involved approachable and understandable to lawyers and non-lawyers alike. This short, focused and superbly presented film should make everyone think about their own values and the country they want the United States to be. All of our public officials and military leaders should see this film before another decision on dealing with the legal side of the war on terrorism is made.
Abbe Lowell, Esq. Former Special Counselor to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia) Former Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the United States
The great virtue of "The Response" is its fair engagement with the moral complexity of military detention. Against the backdrop of a national debate on the issue that is mired in partisan rhetoric and the methods of caricature, this is no small achievement. Indeed, the film is a compelling teaching tool both for specialists and the public at large, compelling us to confront at a granular level the competing considerations that make the detention issue so difficult to resolve.
Robert Chesney Professor, University of Texas School of Law Distinguished Scholar, Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security & Law
The challenge for a free society based on the rule of law is the balance between “providing for the common defense” and “securing the blessings of liberty” declared in the preamble to our republic’s Constitution with the civil liberties mandated in our Bill of Rights. In times of extremes this balance wobbles back and forth. The fulcrum however is the Constitution and it has always kept the balance between national security and civil liberties thus far.
This nation stumbled into the 21st Century blinded by anger, rage, and a need to avenge the deaths on 9/11, that fateful day. Then President George W. Bush declared that “the rules have changed” and the Attorney General of the United States, Alberto Gonzales noted that the Geneva Conventions are “quaint”. Over the next five years allegations of torture, secret camps, undocumented detention, and war crimes surfaced in places like Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Force Base, and of course Guantanamo. The moral authority of America dissolved in a few short years because of these practices and allegations. At times it appeared that we had actually thrown our Constitution away.
"The Response" takes this tension, these emotional issues that confront this country and forces the audience to consider doing what is right as the fate of a young Arab male is considered before a Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) in Guantanamo. The challenge is “what is right?” How the audience answers the question at the end of the film determines the fate of that young detainee.
This straightforward film in a very fast thirty minutes captures the perspectives on both sides of the issue in a compelling manner. The questions asked in "The Response" remain largely unanswered as the CRST members and the detainee joust back and forth seeking to come to a resolution as to the status of the young Arab. In the end it is in the hands of all of us. The answer may not be as clear as one thinks…or is it? As one seeks that answer consider that when this nation is threatened we should always hold tight to the Constitution - not set it aside. Those who died defending its principles over two centuries would expect nothing less.
David M. Crane Professor, Syracuse University College of Law Former Chief Prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone Former Assistant General Counsel of the Defense Intelligence Agency Former Waldemar A. Solf Professor of International Law at the U.S. Army JAG School
The film is provocative, in the best sense of the word.
Martha Rayner Professor of Law, Fordham Law School
"The Response" accomplishes the rarest of feats: it is concise, but does not lack in depth; it is at once current, of the moment, and an eloquent historical record of what took place at Guantanamo. Brief though it is, the film manages to capture the essential absurdities and quandaries characterizing Guantanamo and the larger U.S. detention universe that was constructed after the tragedies of 9/11. "The Response" illuminates the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo and others like them, both to interested individuals today and to future generations of students examining this historical situation.
Ramzi Kassem Assistant Professor of Law, City University of New York School of Law Counsel to Guantanamo and Bagram, Afghanistan prisoners
It was a privilege for us to be able to host the event. Congratulations on this extraordinary film and on the important discussion it provokes at Fordham and elsewhere!
William Treanor Dean, Fordham Law
"The Response" Panel Discussion
February 4, 2008 | University of Maryland, School of Law | 57 Minutes