Friday, April 11, 2008

Matthew Diaz' Story

In my previous post about Bill Moyers' reception of the Ridenhour Award for courage, I only mentioned Matthew Diaz, this year's recipient of the Ridenhour Award for truth-telling, in passing, although I did provide a link to his story on the Ridenhour Awards site. When I told my partner about the piece on Moyers I was writing and mentioned Matthew Diaz as well, she told me about an All Things Considered interview with Diaz she heard while driving home from work yesterday. So, I found the NPR segment, listened to it, and provide the link to the podcast of this interview here. For his sins (sending the names of 151 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to a lawyer at The Center for constitutional Rights, in the hopes that his actions would help lawyers file habeas corpus petitions on the prisoners’ behalf), Diaz, at the time a Navy JAG, was sentenced to six months’ confinement and stripped of his pension. The Navy subsequently decertified him as a JAG officer. Currently, he is on active duty without pay; his case is on appeal and should be heard later this year. Diaz’s license to practice law has also been temporarily suspended. The prisoners’ names were finally released—not when he sent the anonymous card, but 14 months later—due to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Associated Press. The interview brings up the fact that Diaz' thirst for justice for prisoners not too likely to receive it clearly stems from his personal life.His father is on death row in San Quentin for what his son feels was a charge against which he was not well defended in court.

In light of the video I just posted about the White House chats on torture, I wonder who should really be in prison and in disgrace? Diaz certainly deserves his Truth-Telling award, and I hope the ten thousand dollar stipend that accompanies it helps him pay his bills while he is "on active duty without pay," a condition that sounds like nothing less than slavery to me. More on Matthew Diaz in this May, 2007 story from Harper's magazine: The Persecution of Matthew Diaz.

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posted at 1:41:00 PM by marigolds2

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