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Thursday, September 28, 2006

CrimProf Michael Hoffheimer Helps Plan University of Mississippi's Portion of National Guantanamo Program

HoffheimerThe University of Mississippi School of Law is among more than 200 academic institutions nationwide slated to participate in a daylong program Oct.5 focusing on detainees held at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  CrimProf Michael Hoffheimer is helping to organize the University of Mississippi's portion of the program.

Originating at Seton Hall Law School in South Orange, N.J., the 9 a.m.-5 p.m. event features major legal scholars and theologians, and is to be made available via high-quality video streams accessed through the Seton Hall Web site.

UM law professor Michael Hoffheimer said the issue of detainees at Guantanamo has dominated the news recently for a number of reasons. "The Supreme Court rejected administration claims that its treatment of enemy combatants is beyond the rule of law," he said. "The court also ruled that the President may not rewrite criminal rules established by Congress to make it easier to convict the detainees."

In the past month, President George W. Bush sought to introduce legislation that would reinterpret the protections afforded to detainees, make it easier to try them and provide immunities for criminal violations of their rights.

The proposed legislation has been widely rejected by the members of Congress, Hoffheimer said. "The administration released many detainees after the Supreme Court recognized their right to a hearing," he said. "But the problem remains of what to do with the many people still held at Guantanamo and in other detention facilities."

And for many, the problems posed by Guantanamo are symbolic of a much larger issue, Hoffheimer said. "Guantanamo is viewed by many as a symbol of arbitrary rule of a profoundly wrongheaded policy in the fight against terrorism."

Topics to be addressed during the conference include the roles of professional journalists, lawyers and health care providers, such as a journalist's right to publish classified documents about a detainee's death or mistreatment during interrogation and the proper response for military personnel who are asked to violate the laws of war. [Mark Godsey]

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