Field Notes From A Battleground

There’s more than one way to skin a cat

Last time, Church described the disappointing refusal of Special Prosecutor John Durham to prosecute CIA contractors and agents who had tortured terrorism suspects at CIA black sites, while noting the unprecedented settlement in a suit brought against two psychologists who were major players in the torture of suspected terrorists. This week, he will explore the possible investigation by the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) of torture by CIA contractors and agents, and an intriguing development in North Carolina.

Part 2 of 2

Torture, terror: There’s more than one way to skin a cat

Part 1 of 2

Cat lovers take comfort. My title is just a turn of phrase, an adage that serves as a metaphor for what I wish to write about.  

‘Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water’

Part 2 of 2

Last time, Church showed why the Army Field Manual provides the most effective protection against torture, and that President Obama’s Executive Order 13491 extended its reach to all U.S. interrogations, including those conducted by the CIA. But can Trump, with a pen stroke, sign a new order freeing the CIA from the manual’s restraints?


Certainly Trump could rescind President Obama’s order. But where would that leave Trump and Pompeo, who may have put the president up to it?

‘Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water’

Part 1 of 2

The tagline for “Jaws II” is apropos for what I will write about, which is not great white sharks. Rather, it’s about something far more ferocious: torture. 

I had hoped America was done with torturing. But now there may be reason to fear that it will be revived. That’s what I intend to examine.

While on the campaign trail, Donald Trump infamously declared that as president he would use torture in the fight against terrorism. 

Though he never met Donald Trump, Alexander Hamilton knew the man

Alexander Hamilton, a bastard born on Nevis, a small Caribbean island, was both an intellectual dynamo and a brave man of action. During the American Revolution, after first serving with distinction as an artillery captain, Hamilton later was promoted and became Washington’s invaluable adjutant. 

Democracy, republic: the question’s the same

I don’t believe that the United States is a democracy. My trusty old dictionary claims that a democracy exists where government is by the people, where the majority rules. If that’s correct, as judged by our last presidential election, in which Hillary Clinton received more popular votes than Donald Trump, we are not a democracy at all. 

The invaluable, yet hard-to-find, Senate Torture Report

Part 2 of 2

Last week, Church described how the Senate Torture Report had become a political football,and the danger that all copies might disappear.  This time he will deliver the finale of the argument in the Gitmo military commission over whether Judge Pohl will take custody of the full Report to prevent its disappearance, and tell of a surprising and potentially influential development.

No one will want to read this column

That’s because, once again, I will speak of old age and death. These existential twins have come to mind again since a dear friend — while still young in my book — recently was diagnosed with a serious illness, though I will not share the details. She’s too dear, and it’s all too personal. She simply must stick around for a long time, for the sakes of the many who know and love her, and because she makes the world a better place. (Note: Since I wrote this piece, my dear friend died in the noblest way imaginable.)

Dispatch from Guantanamo: the fireworks edition

Part 2 of 2


Last time, Church described the stunning motion by KSM’s counsel to throw Judge Pohl, Chief Prosecutor Martins, and Martins’s entire team off the 9/11 case.  This week, the lawyers duke it out over the motion, albeit figuratively, and Church comments further.