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Honor Bound: Inside the Guantanamo Trials by Kyndra Miller Rotunda

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Honor Bound: Inside the Guantanamo Trials
Kyndra Miller Rotunda

Carolina Academic Press
6/10/2008
Trade Paperback/263 pages
ISBN: 978-1594605123
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Midway through Kyndra Miller Rotunda’s admittedly military-censored book, Honor Bound Inside the Guantanamo Trials, after the reader plows through her amateur narrative about her personal life and name-dropping, she finally gets to the central point. She wants to reveal the “untold truth.”

 

She chides President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for sitting “idly by while critics attacked the war and misrepresented Guantanamo Bay.” She proposes the government “step up public affairs efforts, hold press conferences, correct misstatements and be proactive” in an effort to “win the war of ideas.”

Rotunda graduated from the University of Wyoming Law School, then joined the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG). After several assignments, she ended up on the prosecution team for the Office of Military Commission established in 2006 to try “alien unlawful enemy combatants.”

Major Rotunda, who is still in the military, contends that Department of Defense failed to correct “inaccurate statements” from the media and in some instances even changed policy. In order to “appease CNN”, she claims the government changed the soldiers’ right to defend themselves.

The commission’s name is misleading, she says. It should be called “War Crimes Trials,” and, as such, the trials should be conducted when the war ends. She disputes media reports that the government will hold detainees indefinitely. The laws of war allow holding one’s enemies until the war is over, she argues. She emphasizes that the war will end. Terrorists should also not be referred to as “insurgents” but rather as dangerous criminals ready to attack the United States.

Rotunda claims the prisoners of war are treated better than required under the Geneva Convention. They get eight hours sleep, three Muslim dietary-restricted meals a day, five prayers, and two hours of outdoor recreation. Still, even with this exceptional treatment, detainees continue to abuse religious freedoms and attack guards and medical personnel.

She criticizes the defense team for filing what she calls “unnecessary motions,” such as asking detainees to wear civilian clothes during the trial. The prosecution never objected and in fact, the government paid $800 for a Brooks Brothers suit for a detainee to wear during his trial, she writes.

I have to admit that I was suspect at the beginning of her book when she misrepresented my home state of Wyoming, a state from where she also hails. She’d been better off, while chiding the federal government, to note that Vice President Dick Cheney also grew up in Wyoming.

Her book has merit in her discussion on litigation and her numerous citing of court decisions that are influencing today’s Guantanamo trials. Also worthy of note are the appendices which include the Military Commission Act of 2006 and the President’s Military Order issued November 13, 2001.

Reviewer: Kate Padilla