Senior Class Interviews Guantánamo Bay Prosecutor

Contemporary Moral Issues is a Bible class that students take during their senior year at Columbia Adventist Academy (CAA). This year, the class was presented with an unusual opportunity — the chance to interview Colonel Morris Davis.

Col. Davis was the chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay. Due to his views on torture, he resigned his position in 2007 and is now the executive director of the Crimes of War Project. He has written several educational pieces for the New York Times which speak out against using torture to gain information from terror suspects.

Leading up to this interview, the class had been discussing war and they were grappling with whether the use of torture is acceptable. The instructor, Matthew Butte, wanted to give his students an opportunity to connect with someone who had first-hand knowledge about how torture is utilized. Since Col. Davis is a high-power government official, Butte expected that he would be unavailable to talk with his students. Surprisingly, he agreed to speak to the class via Skype.

So, on Nov. 22, 2011, after some unexpected technical difficulties, the interview began.

"They responded well," said Butte of his class. "Each student prepared at least one question and the questions they produced were intelligent."

Some of the top questions they asked Col. Davis were "What is it like to be in the room with a terrorist?", "Is war or torture justifiable?" and "What do we [the U.S.] do with terror suspects?"

Talking to Col. Davis gave the students an insider's perspective on torture. Senior Tyler Elliott said, "It was nice to talk to someone who has dealt with it and who has a lot of information on the subject."

Kira Thornton appreciated the opportunity to interview Col. Davis. "We never thought we could talk to someone with that much authority. Talking with him was really eye-opening. I wish we could do this every week!"

March 01, 2012 / Oregon Conference