Fed. Public Defender Talks About Guantanamo Bay

By Carly O'Keefe bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Federal public defender Scott Tilsen says he's seen injustice firsthand in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His client, 28-year-old Mustafa Sohail has been held in the detainment camp since 2003 without charges and according to Tilsen, without cause.

"I went to Kabul, Afghanistan and met the father of the client," Tilsen said.  "I held him in my arms as he cried, and I cried.  The client I have is the oldest in the family and he had a good job, was supporting his family and his dad was there when he was arrested actually by private security, not the US military or Afghani soldiers, and he hasn't seen him since."
Tilsen says his client is just one of many detainees whose imprisonment violates the basic principles of the United States Constitution.
"In taking these people to Guantanamo and the process available to them was really un-American." Tilsen said. "There are certainly people who are bad and should be there, but there's way too many that shouldn't, and that's a tragedy not only for the lives we've taken, but it's a tragedy for our country."
Now that President Obama has ordered the closure of Guantanamo Bay, Tilsen says he's hopeful that action will help the United States regain its moral standing in the world.
"Closing Guantanamo says to the world that we are now doing something about what the world has perceived as a real injustice," Tilsen said.
Tilsen also hopes closing the doors to Guantanamo will mean freedom for his client.
"I am sad about my client who's still there because we've stolen most of his 20's from him and he's a person who could have helped rebuild his country if he'd been given the opportunity to do so," said Tilsen.
Not everyone wants to see Guantanamo bay closed down.  On Monday the parents of five 911 victims held a news conference.  They are demanding the camp stay open.  They say the military commission system that's in place there is appropriate.  Republican house minority leader John Boehner also wants the camp to stay open.