New England Law screening of “The Response” - Mar 14, 2012

A screening of "The Response" and panel discussion will take place at New England Law | Boston on March 14, 2012.

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Military

Rear Admiral Donald Guter looks on as President Obama signs the Guantanamo closure order (January 22, 2009).

"The Response" has been the subject of comment by many current and former members of the military, including many members of the Judge Advocates General (JAG) Corps. Some of their comments have included:

I am often asked why I resigned as chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay after serving in the job for more than two years. From now on I’m going to tell people to go see “The Response” and then we’ll talk . . . .

"The Response" makes you feel up close and personal the devastating consequences for a detainee . . . .

The viewer is compelled, regardless of political persuasion, to join the continuing debate . . . .

No person who sees this film will be able to view this issue through the antiseptic lens of an op-ed column, a television debate, or a law review article.

I applaud your tenacity with 'Gitmo.' It is factual, fair and balanced.

This film is a must-see for those interested in national security and individual rights.

[T]his brilliant film pinpoints the ongoing dilemma in detainee operations

 

Read the full comments from current and former members of the military below.

 

I am often asked why I resigned as chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay after serving in the job for more than two years. From now on I’m going to tell people to go see “The Response” and then we’ll talk. The hearing scene highlights the Catch-22 the Bush administration created with the Combatant Status Review Tribunals it reluctantly set up in 2004: a detainee is expected to provide a compelling explanation for the circumstances that led to him being considered an enemy combatant, but we won’t tell him what the circumstances were because the information is classified. Stop and think about that for a moment. No one will tell you the question you are required to answer, but if you don’t provide the right answer you could spend the rest of your life in confinement. The scene that struck a personal chord with me was that latter part of the movie set back in the CSRT deliberation room. It was as if Sig Libowitz had read my mind in the weeks leading up to my resignation and used it as the script for the dialogue among the officers deciding the fate of the detainee. The issues they debated amongst themselves were the exact same ones I had debated internally. America’s strength has always been its commitment to the rule of law and principles and ideals that are unbending even in the worst of times. We somehow lost sight of that after 9/11. “The Response” will make you stop and think about who we are and what we stand for. Hopefully it will lead you to conclude that we can never again let people in power use fear to persuade us to compromise America’s core values.

Morris D. "Moe" Davis
Colonel (retired), Chief Prosecutor for the Guantanamo Military Commissions (2005-2007)
Executive Director of the Crimes of War Education Project and faculty member at the Howard University School of Law

 

Get ready for a trip inside a prison at Guantanamo and imagine you have been accused of terrorism and a hearing is about to start that will determine whether or not you will indefinitely remain in a GTMO cell, perhaps for the rest of your life. Or imagine you are an American military officer and have to make a release or continued detention decision about your alleged enemy. Could you be fair? Do these detention hearings really arrive at the truth? "The Response" makes you feel up close and personal the devastating consequences for a detainee who may wind up in a black hole of detention from which he may never escape without a fair opportunity to confront his accusers and the evidence against him. And it also puts you in the role of a decision maker with the awesome responsibility of potentially releasing an alleged Al Qaeda member who might return to the battlefield against you, or even worse, can you risk that he might be a suicide bomber who targets your child's school? How long should preventive detention last and what process is due process, considering the war against Al Qaeda has an uncertain end? "The Response" challenges you to consider these and many other complex and novel legal issues of first impression that continue to challenge constitutional and international legal scholars alike. Yet, incredibly, it does it all in a short 30 minute riveting film. An absolute MUST see!

Pete Masciola
former Chief Military Defense Counsel
Guantanamo Bay Military Commissions

 

What is the price of one man's freedom? With the dramatic portrayal of the circumstances surrounding the capture and treatment--and, therefore, the legal status--of just one detainee at Guantanamo Bay, "The Response" forces you to confront, in a very personal way, this timeless question. The viewer is compelled, regardless of political persuasion, to join the continuing debate about the the right balance of policies that will protect both our national security and the values we profess. In 30 short minutes, the film captures the essence of this complex moral and political struggle. Must eternal vigilance necessarily cost us either our liberty or our personal safety? Watch “The Response” before you decide.

Donald J. Guter
Rear Admiral (ret.), Judge Advocate General for the U.S. Navy
Currently President and Dean, South Texas College of Law

 

The treatment of individuals captured in the course of what President Bush characterized as the Global War on Terror has been the single most controversial national security issue of this decade. This is rightly so, as the generational detention of alleged enemy belligerents implicates the delicate balance between national security and protection from arbitrary state power, a balance at the very core of our national ethos. In his exceptional film The Response, Sig Libowitz has accomplished something that has eluded the cacophony of voices engaged in this debate: the humanization of this issue. No person who sees this film will be able to view this issue through the antiseptic lens of an op-ed column, a television debate, or a law review article. Instead, the human stakes involved in the process adopted to determine the fate of these detainees – stakes with profound impact not only on the detainees, but also on the U.S. military officers charged with determining their fate – will be palpably apparent. For this, Mr. Libowitz deserves great credit, for in humanizing the Combatant Status Review Tribunal process he is teaching viewers truisms that members of the military know all too well: these issues are never easy, and even the most reviled enemy must be viewed through the lens of humanity when he is at the mercy of our nation. The Response is a reminder of a core principle of legitimate military action, a principle articulated by Dr. Francis Lieber nearly 150 years ago in the first modern law of war code of conduct written to ensure morality in the midst of our own Civil War: “Men who take up arms against one another in public war do not cease on this account to be moral beings . . .”

Geoffrey S. Corn
Associate Professor of Law, South Texas College of Law
Lieutenant Colonel (ret.), U.S. Army JAG Corps
Former Special Assistant to the Judge Advocate General for Law of War Matters

 

I am fortunate to have been able to serve as a US Marine. However, defending the Constitution and the principles we believe in does not always require one to wear a uniform. Your panel and film is proof of that. Keep up the great work. It is refreshing to watch something that is relevant, important and inspires thought and debate. Again, I applaud your tenacity with 'Gitmo.' It is factual, fair and balanced. These are rare commodities today. You have harnessed a very powerful instrument in a positive way.

Sean Byrne
Squad Leader, Sergeant, United States Marine Corps Active Duty 1985-92
Senior Scout, Sergeant USMCR, Reservist until 2006. Rejoined following 9-11

 

In his film "The Response," Sig Libowitz has done a great job of demonstrating the complexity of the situation involving the detainees at Guantanamo. His even-handed portrayal of a Combat Status Review Tribunal appeals to those on all sides of this difficult issue. Though dramatized, Libowitz uses actual excerpts from a collage of real cases and then illustrates the difficulties of weighing competing interests in coming to a decision on the status of these detainees. The films thoughtful ending then leaves the watcher to determine his or her own "response." This film is a must-see for those interested in national security and individual rights.

Eric Talbot Jensen
Visiting Assistant Professor, Fordham University School of Law
Lieutenant Colonel (ret.), U.S. Army JAG Corps

 

"The Response" captures the very problem the United States faces in combating an asymmetric enemy. Exploring the balance between protecting the safety of innocents while upholding the rule of law, this brilliant film pinpoints the ongoing dilemma in detainee operations. It also demonstrates how lawyers, operators in the field, and commanders continually walk the razor’s edge in making consequential decisions in a still-developing legal process.

Trevor Orsinger
former Active Duty U.S. Air Force JAG (Iraq)