Human rights expert Lisa Hajjar will speak at the University of Mary Washington on Tuesday, Feb. 25 about “the trial of the century.” The lecture, titled “Let’s Go to Guantanamo! An On-the-Ground Perspective on the 9/11 Trial,” is at 7 p.m. in Monroe Hall, Room 116.
Hajjar’s talk will focus on the military commission trial for Khaled Sheikh Muhammad and four other men accused of responsibility for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a case often referred to as “the trial of the century.” Hajjar’s first-hand perspective focuses on what it is like to go to Guantanamo, and will discuss the issues that this case raises. The government is striving to pursue accountability for 9/11, but justice is complicated by the fact that all five defendants were held for years in secret prisons and tortured by the CIA, and everything surrounding this case is shrouded in secrecy, which severely impedes the legal process. Hajjar will discuss how the military commission system is struggling to contend with these complicated issues in a multi-defendant death penalty case.
A professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Hajjar went to Guantanamo three times in 2010 to report on the trial of Omar Khadr, the Canadian “child soldier,” who was transferred to Guantanamo when he was 16. In December 2013, she went to Guantanamo to observe the military commission trial of five 9/11 suspects.
The professor’s research and writing focus on law and legality, war and conflict, human rights, and torture. Hajjar is the author of “Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza” (University of California Press, 2005) and “Torture: A Sociology of Violence and Human Rights” (Routledge, 2012). She serves on the editorial committees of Middle East Report, Jadaliyya, and Journal of Palestine Studies. She is currently working on a book about U.S. torture and the role of lawyers. In 2014-2015, she will be the Edward Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut.