- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Bravo to Cleveland attorney Carlos Warner for realizing that the best way to get the internet to pay attention to a story about Guantanamo detainee Majid Khan is to make it about "adorable kittens". The Toronto Star‘s Michelle Shephard reports:
The rumour about Khan having a cat began this summer when another detainee, Rahim al-Afghani, wrote his Ohio lawyer. The letter took two months to clear Guantanamo’s security censors. It read: “Majid Khan has a cat.”
Carlos Warner, the Cleveland federal public defender, wondered if Khan was given the cat as a reward for co-operating with prosecutors — something JTF-GTMO appears to deny. Does al-Afghani want a cat, as an incentive to co-operate?
Warner, a lawyer who knows the value of a good quote, told an Associated Press reporter: “I can’t confirm or deny whether he wants an adorable kitten.”
It is not about the cat, really. Warner was frustrated that the benign information took two months to be released. He knew it was a made-for-headlines way to illustrate what Guantanamo’s army of civilian and military defence lawyers complain are “draconian” censorship laws.
Feral cats are apparently plentiful around Guantanamo, but prison authorities will not discuss whether they have been given to some detainees as pets — a deliberately absurd issue that attorneys say exemplifies a culture of secrecy that makes it impossible for them to mount an effective defence for their clients.
Kittehs aside, I actually wouldn’t be surprised to hear a question about Guantanamo at tonight’s debate. Obama raised a few eyebrows in his Daily Show interview last week by saying, “I still want to close Guantanamo.” Romney famously promised to "double Guantanamo" during 2008 primary debate.