Guantanamo Bay closure plan to be discussed at Vanderbilt

Two retired military officials will discuss President Obama’s plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center at a Vanderbilt Law School event Thursday, Feb. 25.

The discussion, titled “A Conversation of Guantanamo – Law Psychology and Ethics of Torture,” will run from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Renaissance Room of Vanderbilt Law School at 131 21st Ave. S.

The event is free and open to the public. The last 30 minutes of the conversation will be reserved for audience questions.

Members of the media who wish to attend should contact Jim Patterson.

The discussion will be moderated by Michael A. Newton, professor of the practice of law at Vanderbilt Law School and an authority on military commissions and international criminal legal issues.

Featured speakers:

Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist who has advised the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other senior Department of Defense officials on issues of psychological health and is an expert on torture and the treatment of detainees. He has interviewed multiple detainees at Guantanamo, and has provided expert testimony on behalf of current and former detainees. Xenakis retired from the U.S. Army in 1998 as a brigadier general.

Bill Lietzau is the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for rule of law and detainee policy in the Obama administration. As such, he was responsible for developing and coordinating global policy guidance regarding rule of law initiatives and the detention of captured enemy forces. Before his tenure as deputy assistant secretary of defense, he was assigned as deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council, where he addressed a variety of legal issues dealing with subjects such as international criminal law, counter-narcotics, interdictions, piracy, counter-terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, non-proliferation, missile defense, foreign assistance and treaty implementation. He retired from the Marine Corps as a colonel with 27 years of service.

“Dr. Xenakis and Col. Lietzau will offer the audience an informed and nuanced understanding of some of the complexities surrounding President Obama’s proposal to close Guantanamo and the resistance with which it is being met by some,” said Clayton L. Wiggins, a Vanderbilt Law School student, president of Law Students for Veteran Affairs at Vanderbilt and a captain in the Marine Corps. “With Professor Newton moderating, the discussion is sure to be compelling and spirited.”

The event is sponsored by Law Students for Veterans Affairs (LSVA) and funded by the Hyatt Student Activities Fund. Additional funding was provided by Neal & Harwell, PLC.