Vail Symposium explores Guantanamo Bay prison |

Vail Symposium explores Guantanamo Bay prison

Vail Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –The war in Iraq, warrantless wiretapping, the Abu Ghraib scandal and denial of habeas corpus to prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center have put America in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons – and the Vail Symposium is ready to tackle the issue.

All of this has raised some interesting questions about where the line should be drawn when it comes to defending our nation from terrorism and keeping the moral high ground on individual rights and freedoms.

The Vail Symposium is committed to staring down the barrel of such heated questions and helping bring a greater understanding of them to our mountain community. To help with this quest for knowledge, trial lawyer Scott Barker will speak at the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa this Thursday, using the events at the Guantanamo Bay prison, where many being held are suspected of terrorist acts against America, as a case study of individual rights in an age of terrorism.

Barker said he’s got a story to tell that will spur a dialogue on the protection of human rights. Barker has represented five prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

“I’m going to concentrate on Guantanamo Bay detention facility and what’s happened to the detainees over time,” said Barker.

Barker has practiced law at Hollard and Hart for 27 years. Before entering law school, Barker served on active duty in the Air Force for eight years, including tours in Southeast Asia and the Pentagon.

“I’m a friend of the military, if you will, so this is not about bashing them,” he said. “I got involved … really to protect the rule of law and to provide to these people the representation and process that the Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly said they’re entitled to have.

Barker said about 220 prisoners are still being held at the Guantanamo Bay facility, many which haven’t even been charged with a crime yet, even after seven years of captivity.

“It’s a pretty dire situation,” Barker said. “These people have been in prison for seven years without being charged. The big problem and the shame on us as a country is the fact that we’ve had a large number of people sitting down there in prison subject to pretty rigorous interrogation and some of these people have been tortured and yet they haven’t been charged.

“We’ve just held them away from their families and many of them are innocent,” Barker said.

Of course recent developments in the Obama administration could change the direction of the discussion in the future, Barker said, since the president has called for the closure of the facility within the year, which brought up questions of the release and relocation of prisoners on American soil, not exactly the most popular notion for most U.S. citizens.

What: Lawyer Scott Barker and Guantanamo prison

When: Thursday, July 23 from 5:30 meet and greet; 6:00 – 7:15 p.m. discussion

Where: Vail Cascade Resort and Spa in Vail.

Cost: $25 or $20 for Vail Symposium donors. Includes appetizers and a cash bar.

More information: Call 970-476-0954 or visit

Support Local Journalism