The Cable

Ex-Gitmo Prosecutor-Turned-Critic Settles Free Speech Case for $100,000

The former Gitmo prosecutor wrote op-eds critical of the prison, and was then fired from the Library of Congress.


The six-year free speech fight between Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor for the Guantánamo Bay military commissions, and the Library of Congress has been settled.

After leaving the commissions, Davis had worked as an assistant director for the Library of Congress. He was fired in 2009 after penning opinion pieces in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal that were critical of President Barack Obamas decision to use both federal court and military commissions to prosecute detainees. He sued the library in 2010, with help from the ACLU, for violating his right to free speech and due process.

Under the terms of the settlement, Davis gets $100,000 and a correction of his employment record to show that the Library of Congress had no reason to fire him.

Davis served as the third chief prosecutor in the Guantánamo military commissions from September 2005 until October 2007. He quit after objecting to evidence obtained through waterboarding was used in trials against detainees.

“The guy who said waterboarding is A-OK, I was not going to take orders from. I quit,” Davis testified at a 2008 hearing at the U.S. Navy base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He was called to the stand by lawyers for Osama bin Laden’s former driver.

Davis was named an an assistant director at the Congressional Research Service in 2008. The next year, he published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal critical of the White House’s decision to use dual venues to try prisoners. Davis argued, “The administration must choose. Either federal courts or military commissions, but not both, for the detainees that deserve to be prosecuted and punished for their past conduct.”

“Double standards don’t play well in Peoria,” he wrote. “They won’t play well in Peshawar or Palembang either. We need to work to change the negative perceptions that exist about Guantánamo and our commitment to the law.”

Davis has since continued to be a critic of Obama’s Guantánamo policies.

“Injustice at Guantánamo Bay is every bit as relevant today as it was more than six years ago when I spoke out about it,” Davis said in a statement Tuesday.

Obama has vowed to close the prison, located in Cuba, before he leaves office. According to the ACLU, as of April 2016, there are 80 prisoners still at the facility.

Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images

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