An open letter to the US Secretary of Defense in support of releasing Mohamedou Ould Slahi from Guantanamo military base.

May 18, 2016

Ashton B. Carter Secretary of Defense Department of Defense 1000 Defense Pentagon Washington, DC

Dear Secretary Carter,

We are professors and teachers from a variety of disciplines. We are writing to convey our interest in the forthcoming Periodic Review Board hearing of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, the author of Guantánamo Diary, and our hope that those proceedings will bring an end to Mr. Slahi’s ordeal in United States custody.

Many of us have assigned Guantánamo Diary to our students and discussed it in our classrooms. We have done so because, as a Pentagon spokesman acknowledged shortly after Guantánamo Diary was published, “it’s part of our country’s history.” We have also done so because it is an important and often surprising work of literatureone that, like other notable works of prison literature, draws a complex portrait of life in captivity and testifies to the resilience of dignity and the human spirit.

When students read Guantánamo Diary, they are troubled by the ordeal Mr. Slahi recounts, and they are moved by his candor, wit, and willingness to recognize the humanity of his guards and interrogators. They are also full of questions, as we are, about why Mr. Slahi is in United States custody at all, and how the treatment he recounts accords with our most basic notions of fairness, due process, and justice.

Because it takes readers deep into some of the most wrenching experiences of our post-9/11 history, Mr. Slahi’s Guantánamo Diary will almost certainly be read for generations. But how it is read in the future will depend in large part on how and when Mr. Slahi’s time in United States custody ends.

We hope the Periodic Review Board will resolve Mr. Slahi’s profoundly troubling story. Guantánamo Diary reminds us vividly that justice is both a universal concept and an individual matter. As educators and as readers, we sincerely hope that Mr. Slahi’s faith in the United States’ fair administration of justice will at last be repaid.


Rebecca A. Adelman

Ruth Blakeley

Head of School, Professor of International Relations
University of Kent

Joseph A. Buttigieg

William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English University of Notre Dame

Joan C. Callahan

Professor Emerita of Philosophy University of Kentucky

Christine Cervenak

Associate Director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights and Concurrent Assistant Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame

Associate Professor of Media & Communication Studies University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Amna Akbar

Assistant Professor of Law The Ohio State University

Meena Alexander

Distinguished Professor of English Hunter College/Graduate Center CUNY

Robert Archambeau

Professor of English Lake Forest College

Shohini Chaudhuri

Senior Lecturer, Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies University of Essex

Erwin Chemerinsky

Dean of the School of Law; Distinguished Professor of Law; Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law University of California, Irvine School of Law

Michelle Chihara

Assistant Professor; Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Whittier College

Eleni Coundouriotis

Professor of English University of Connecticut

Jean-Philippe Dedieu

CIRHUS Research Fellow New York University

Lara Deeb

Chair, Department of Anthropology Professor of Anthropology
Scripps College

David Donahue

Affiliated Professor of Education; Director of Leo T. McCarthy Center University of San Francisco

Joshua Dubler

Assistant Professor of Religion University of Rochester

Marisa Egerstrom

Ph.D. Candidate Harvard University

Irene Williams

Professor of English University of San Diego

Lisa M. Feldstein

Instructor University of San Francisco

Professor William Felice

Professor of Political Science Eckerd College

Frank Foley

Lecturer, Department of War Studies King's College London

Amber Ginsburg

Lecturer, Department of Visual Arts University of Chicago

Tom Ginsburg

Deputy Dean, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Research Scholar, and Professor of Political Science
University of Chicago Law School

Rebecca Gordon

Lecturer, Department of Philosophy University of San Francisco

Yogita Goyal

Associate Professor of Humanities University of California, Los Angeles

Lisa Hajjar

Professor of Sociology University of California, Santa Barbara

Sidra Hamidi

Ph.D. Candidate Northwestern University

Barbara Harlow

Louann and Larry Temple Centennial Professor of English Literatures University of Texas

Summer Harrison

Assistant Professor of English/Environmental Studies
Drew University

Rebecca Hazelton

Assistant Professor of English North Central College

Maha Hilal

Adjunct Professor George Mason University

Tobias Hoffman

Associate Professor of Philosophy The Catholic University of America

Aaron J Hughes

Artist, teacher, organizer, and Iraq War veteran

Paul Hunt

Professor, School of Law University of Essex

Aziz Huq

Professor of Law University of Chicago

Ian Hurd

Associate Professor and Director, International Studies Program
Northwestern University

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd

Associate Professor, Political Science and Religious Studies Northwestern University

David B. Ingram

Professor of Philosophy Loyola University Chicago

Sherri Irvin

Presidential Research Professor of Philosophy and Women's and Gender Studies; Co- Director of the Center for Social Justice University of Oklahoma

Shakti Jaising

Assistant Professor of English Drew University

Scott Korb

New York University

Wendy Kozol

Professor/Chair of Comparative American Studies
Oberlin College

Peter Kuznick

Professor of History and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute American University

Les Levidow

Senior Research Fellow Open University, UK

Jinee Lokaneeta

Associate Professor Drew University

Laura Lomas

Associate Professor of English Rutgers University

Patrisia Macias-Rojas

Assistant Professor University of Illinois, Chicago

Nathaniel Mathews

Ph.D. Candidate Northwestern University

John Matthias

Professor Emeritus of English University of Notre Dame

Jamie Mayerfeld

Professor of Political Science and Adjunct Professor of Law, Societies and Justice University of Washington

Krystyna Mazur

Assistant Professor at American Studies Center
University of Warsaw, Poland

Bernadine Mellis

Five College Lecturer in Video Production Mount Holyoke College

Philip Metres

Professor, Department of English John Carroll University

Diane Tietjens Meyers

Professor Emerita of Philosophy University of Connecticut

Alexandra Moore

Associate Professor of English UNC Greensboro

Alberto Mora

Senior Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Hanna Musiol

Associate Professor, Institutt for språk og litteratur Det humanistiske fakultet Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Angela Naimou

Assistant Professor - U.S. American Literature, Cultural Studies
Clemson University

Lutz Oette

Lecturer in Law SOAS

Crystal Parikh

Associate Professor of English, Social and Cultural Analysis
New York University

Wendy Pearlman

Associate Professor of Political Science Northwestern University

John Peck

Philemon Foundation

Norma J. Hervey

Professor of Social Sciences Charles University, Prague

Deborah Alejandra Popowski

Lecturer on Law Harvard Law School

David L. Richards

Associate Professor of Political Science and Human Rights
University of Connecticut

Gabor Rona

Visiting Professor of Law Cardozo Law School

Noah Salomon

Assistant Professor of Religion Carleton College

Victoria Sanford

Professor of Anthropology, Center for Human Rights & Peace Studies Lehman College City University of New York

Valerie Sayers

Professor of English University of Notre Dame

Kenneth Schlesinger

Professor and Chief Librarian Lehman College/CUNY

Rachel Seoighe

Associate Lecturer in Criminology and Sociology
Middlesex University

Henry Shue

Professor Emeritus of Politics and International Relations; Senior Research Fellow Emeritus at Merton College University of Oxford

Dawinder "Dave" S. Sidhu

Associate Professor of Law University of New Mexico School of Law

Shayna Silverstein

Assistant Professor Northwestern University

Karen-Margrethe Simonsen

Associate Professor; Director of the Ph.D. Programme
Aarhus University, Denmark

Eric Singer

Untold History Education Project

Joseph Slaughter

Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature Columbia University

William Slaughter

Professor Emeritus of English University of North Florida

Domna Stanton

Distinguished Professor of French Graduate Center, CUNY

Shari Stone-Mediatore

Professor of Philosophy Ohio Wesleyan University

Mark Storey

Assistant Professor of American Literature University of Warwick

Elizabeth Swanson Goldberg

Professor of English; Chair of Arts and Humanities Division
Babson College

Rory Sykes

Ph.D. Candidate Northwestern University

Terri Tomsky

Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies University of Alberta, Canada

Brenda Vellino

Associate Professor of English and Literature Carleton University

Belinda Walzer

Lecturer in English; Director, Writing Center Northeastern University

Julia Watson

Professor Emerita of Comparative Studies Ohio State University

Jessica Winegar

Associate Professor Northwestern University

Seval Yildirim

Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Professor of Law
Whittier Law School

Danielle Zach

Acting Director of Human Rights Studies City University of New York