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Peter Jan Honigsberg


Professor Peter Jan Honigsberg’s current research focuses on the rule of law and human rights violations that occurred in the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the study of terrorism and other post-9/11 issues. Honigsberg is the founder and director of the Witness to Guantanamo project witnesstoguantanamo.com, which began in fall 2008. He has filmed full-length and in-depth interviews of former detainees in more than a dozen countries who have worked in or are associated with Guantanamo Bay, including prison guards, interrogators, interpreters, medical personnel, psychologists, prosecutors, habeas attorneys, JAG attorneys, high-ranking government officials, high-ranking military officials, and family members of former prisoners. In May 2007, Honigsberg visited Guantanamo Bay. He teaches Terrorism and International Criminal Law, as well as Administrative Law. He is the author of numerous law review articles and books, including Our Nation Unhinged: The Human Consequences of the War on Terror (University of California Press, 2009); “Chasing Enemy Combatants and Circumventing International Law: A License for Sanctioned Abuse” (UCLA International Law and Foreign Affairs Journal, 2007); “Inside Guantanamo,” (Nevada Law Journal, 2010); and Crossing Border Street: A Civil Rights Memoir (University of California Press, 2000). His most recent article is “In Search of a Forum for the Guantanamo Disappeared” (University of Denver Law Review, forthcoming). Honigsberg also frequently contributes pieces to the Huffington Post.

  • BA, City University of New York
  • JD, New York University
Prior Experience
  • Director, Legal Writing and Research Program, USF School of Law and Golden Gate University School of Law
  • Instructor, San Francisco State University
  • Attorney/Author, private practice
  • Staff Attorney, National Housing Law Project, Berkeley
  • Sigrid Rausing Trust Grant, Witness to Guantanamo project
  • Left Tilt Fund Grant, Witness to Guantanamo project
  • Roddick Foundation Trustees Grant, Witness to Guantanamo project
  • Open Society Institute (Soros) Grant, Witness to Guantanamo project
  • Levinson Foundation Trustees Grant, Witness to Guantanamo project
  • Samuel Rubin Foundation Trustees Grant, Witness to Guantanamo project
"Explaining The Difference Between Lawful And Unlawful Enemy Combatants"HuffPost Live01/13/14
"The Real Origin of the Term 'Enemy Combatant'"The Huffington Post01/09/14
Broadcast on Witness to Guantanamo ProjectWCEV Radio11/01/13
"The Link Between Guantanamo and Syria"American Constitution for Law and Policy09/10/13
"9/11: A Mystery to the Young"The Huffington Post09/10/13
"Desperately Alone in a Crowd"Elements (The New Yorker blog)05/30/13
"‘Geographies of Detention’ Exhibition Opens June 1"UCR Today05/28/13
Article on President Obama's plans to close down Guantanamo PrisonAl Jazeera05/10/13
"The Scholars’ Circle & Insighters Radio- May 5th, 2013"The Scholars' Circle (KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles)05/05/13
"Guantánamo ‘Torture’ Fears Over Force-Feeding"The Times, The Australian05/02/13
"A Darkening Cloud Hangs Over Guantanamo"
The Huffington Post
"How Is Linguistic Isolation Similar to—and Different From—Physical Isolation?"Science + Religion Today05/01/13
BBC Radio Up All Night04/30/13
"Solitary Linguistic Confinement"The Economist04/16/13
"Up All Night: 6/04/2013"BBC Radio Up All Night04/06/13
"Obama 'Doubled Downed' with Drones while Notorious Interrogator Apologized"The American Constitutional Society for Law and Policy03/25/13
"Isolated Inside the Administration"The American Constitutional Society for Law and Policy11/28/12
"In Memory of Adnan Latif: ‘Timmy’ and a Hospital Corpsman in Guantanamo"American Constitution Society10/04/12
Interviewed for broadcast on detainee who died in GuantanamoRT TV (Russian media organization)09/11/12
"Amnesty International Protests Gitmo detentions"ABC 7 News KGO (ABC San Francisco)01/11/12
Broadcast on 10 year anniversary of GuantanamoKCBS Radio01/10/12
"Guantánamo Bay: 10 Years of Controversy"Radio Netherlands01/10/12
"Spielberg, Guantanamo, and Me"California Lawyer11/01/11
"The Defining Moment of the Decade"The Huffington Post09/07/11
"Coping With Loneliness in Guantanamo"The Huffington Post08/19/11
"Bar Considers Ending Some Data Collection"Daily Journal07/08/11
"Without Human Rights We Are Just Another Country"The Huffington Post03/14/11
"A Legacy"The Huffington Post11/05/10
"Transforming Lives on this Side of the GTMO Wire"The Huffington Post10/07/10
"The Witness to Guantanamo Project"Andy Worthington08/31/10
"Dignified, But Broken"The Huffington Post08/30/10
"The Witness to Guantanamo Project: In-Depth Filmed Interviews of Former Guantanamo Detainees"The Huffington Post09/07/09
"Our Nation Unhinged - Book Review"Daily Journal08/01/09
"Talking Dog Blog Interview with Peter Honigsberg"The Talking Dog
Newscast on Guantanamo Bay and Prof. Honigsberg's bookKTVU's Mornings on 205/22/09
The Cuban Iguana and American JurisprudenceOpEdNews.com04/29/09
"Untitled"The Rob Kall Bottom-Up Radio Show on WNJC AM04/29/09
"Palestinian, you are on your own!" International Solidarity Movement03/26/09
"I Debated a War Criminal"The Huffington Post03/24/09
Guantanamo Bay: Obama facing tough decisions on Guantanamo BayThe Star Ledger, The Miami Herald03/01/09
Peter Jan Honigsberg on GitmoABC 7 News at 11PM KGO01/22/09
Professor Honigsberg Discusses Possible Guantanamo Closing on KGO Radio NewsKGO Radio News01/20/09
"Establishing a Truth Commission for Guantanamo"The Huffington Post01/10/09
"Religious, rights groups applaud Supreme Court in habeas corpus case"Catholic News Service06/16/08
  • Gilbert's Legal Research, Writing  & Analysis (Gilbert Publishing Co, 12 Edition Cleveland, Ohio). (Co-Authored with Professor Edith Ho.)
  • Our Nation Unhinged: The Human Consequences of the War on Terror (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009).
  • Crossing Border Street: A Civil Rights Memoir (University of California Press, 2000).
Law Review and Journal Articles
  • "Linguistic Isolation: A New Human Rights Violation Constituting Torture, and Cruel, Inhuman And Degrading Treatment," 12 Northwestern University Journal of International Human Rights (2014). Read More
  • "Linguistic Isolation: A New Human Rights Violation Constituting Torture, and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment," (2013). SSRN
  • "In Search of a Forum for the Families of the Guantanamo Disappeared," 90 Denver University Law Review 433 (2012). SSRN
  • "Conflict of Interest that Led to the Gulf Oil Disaster," 41 Environmental Law Reporter News & Analysis 10414 (2011). SSRN
  • "Inside Guantanamo," 10 Nevada Law Journal 82 (2009). SSRN
  • "Chasing Enemy Combatants and Circumventing International Law: A License for Sanctioned Abuse," 12 UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs 1 (2007). (Symposium: Protecting the Nation at the Expense of Individuals? Defining the Scope of U.S. Executive Power at Home and Abroad in Times of Crisis) SSRN
  • "Pursuing Dignity Through Three Tumultuous Decades: Reporting Civil Rights: American Journalism 1941-1973," 44 Santa Clara Law Review 335 (2003). SSRN
  • "The Evolution and Revolution of Napster," 36 University of San Francisco Law Review 472 (2002). SSRN
  • "A Barbie Doll Story: How the Doll Study in Brown v. Board of Education led Berkeley High School Students to Question the World of Barbie Dolls," Phi Delta Kappan  (1995).
  • "When the Client Harasses the Attorney — Recognizing Third-Party Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession," 28 University of San Francisco Law Review 715 (1994). (With Marilyn Tham and Gary Alexander)
  • "Unfairness in Access to and Citation of Unpublished Federal Court Decisions," 18 Golden Gate University Law Review 277 (1988). (With James A. Dikel)
  • "Tenant Union-Landlord Relations Act: A Proposal," 58 Georgetown Law Journal 1013 (1970). (With Myron Moskowitz)
Book Contributions
    Opinion Pieces and Blog Posts
    Other Publications
    • Learning Legal Analysis Through its Components: Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion — IRAC [computer file] (Minneapolis, Minn.: CALI, 1989) .
    • Using IRAC to Develop an Objective Memorandum of Law [computer file] (Minneapolis, Minn.: CALI, 1989).
      Court Citation of Research
        • Presenter, "Presentation on Witness to Guantanamo Project," Occidental College, Los Angeles, Calif. (March 2014). (Prof. Jan Honigsberg discusses and shows video clips from interviews of former detainees and others who have lived or worked in the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.)
        • Presenter, "Witness to Guantanamo Presentation," Guantánamo Public Memory Project, Arizona State University "Human Library Experience," Phoenix, Ariz. (November 2013).
        • Presenter, "Linguistic Isolation," American Society of International Law Conference, New York University, "New Perspectives on Human Right," New York, N.Y. (November 2013).
        • Presenter, "Filming Detainees and Other Voices: The Witness to Guantanamo Project," UCLA Human Rights Archives Symposium,, Los Angeles, Calif. (October 2013).
        • Presenter, "Witness to Guantánamo," UC Riverside "Guantánamo Public Memory Project," Riverside, Calif. (July 2013).
        • Panelist, "National Security’s New Paradigm: Confronting the Post-9/11 Past," Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU, "Why Remember Guantánamo? GTMO Before 9-11, What Now, and What’s Next," New York, N.Y. (December 2012).
        • Panelist, "The Legacy of Guantanamo: Where Do We Go From Here?" Barry University Law Review 2012 Symposium, "Guantanamo’s Legacy: Reflections on a Decade of Detention," Orlando, Fla. (February 2012).
        • Presenter, "Witness to Guantanamo Project," Barry University Law Review 2012 Symposium, "Guantánamo’s Legacy: Reflections on a Decade of Detention," Orlando, Fla. (February 2012).
        • Presenter, "Narrating Detentions and Deportations of Muslims, Post 9/11," Southwestern University's "September 11th Ten Years Later: The Impact on Muslims at Home and Abroad," Georgetown, Texas (September 2011).
        • Presenter, "Filming In-Depth Interviews with Former Guantanamo Detainees and Other Witnesses," Sonoma County Bar Association "The Witness to Guantanamo Project," Santa Rosa, Calif. (April 2011).
        • Presenter, "Witness to Guantanamo," Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Mass. (March 2011).
        • Moderator, "American War Crimes," 13th Annual Trina Grillo Public Interest and Social Justice Retreat, University of San Francisco School of Law, (March 2011).
        • Presenter, "Witness to Guantanamo," UC Hastings College of the Law "2010 Amnesty International USA Western Coast Regional Conference 'Shine a Light: 50 Years of Activism'," San Francisco, Calif. (November 2010).
        • Presenter, "The BP Oil 'Spill' and the Law," University of San Francisco Teach-In "BP, the Gulf, and Beyond: Environmental and Human Costs of the Gulf Oil Disaster," (November 2010).
        • Presenter, the Witness to Guantanamo project to Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP. , San Francisco (September 2010).
        • Presenter, Harvard University Carr Center for Human Rights Policy Panel, Cambridge, Mass. (April 2010). (Honigsberg spoke and presented video clips on the Witness to Guantanamo project.)
        • Presenter, Harvard Social Anthropology Program Seminar Series "Witness to Guantanamo," Cambridge, Mass. (April 2010).
        • Presenter, New York University's Cantor Film Center Panel, New York, N.Y. (April 2010). (Honigsberg spoke and presented video clips on the Witness to Guantanamo project.)
        • Presenter, "Witness to Guantanamo Project," Berkeley High School Human Rights Day Celebration , Berkeley (December 2009).
        • Presenter, "Witness to Guantanamo Project," University of San Diego Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, (November 2009).
        • Presenter, "Witness to Guantanamo," University of San Francisco School of Law, (October 2009). (Honigsberg discussed his Witness to Guantanamo Project and presented several clips of interviews with former Guantanamo detainees that he filmed this summer.)
        • Presenter, Our Nation Unhinged: The Human Consequences of the War on Terror, Barnes and Noble in Jack London Square, Oakland (September 2009). (Book Reading)
        • Presenter, "The Human Consequences of the War on Terror and the Closing of Guantanamo," World Affairs Council, East Bay Chapter, Walnut Creek (April 2009).
        • Presenter, "An Independent, NGO-Sponsored Guantanamo Truth Commission: The Tension with Those Who Want a Government-Sponsored Truth Commission," University of San Francisco School of Law Faculty Teaching and Scholarship Workshop Series, (March 2009).
        • Presenter, "New Voices in Human Rights," Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, San Diego (January 2009). (The presentation proposed a truth commission for Guantanamo)
        • Presenter, "Executive Power and Detainment of Enemy Combatants," UCLA Law Symposium "Protecting the Nation at the Expense of Individuals?" Los Angeles (February 2007).
        • Presenter, "'Enemy Combatants:' Is it a Term of Art or of Mischief?" World Affairs Council, San Francisco (2006).
        • Presenter, "The Multistate Performance Test used on the bar exam of 25 states," Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools,
        • Presenter, "Workshop on the California Bar Performance Test," University of Oregon Law School and Willamette University College of Law,
        • Presenter, workshops on manual and online legal research skills, California Land Surveyors Conference. ,
        • Presenter, "Crossing Border Street — A Civil Rights Memoir," Southern University School of Law, annual address,
        Testimony and Hearings
          Written Testimony and Commentary
            Advisor or Consultant
            • Consultant, California Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB).
            • Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI).
            • Consultant, California Land Surveyors Association.
            • Consultant, UC Hastings College of the Law: Legal Education Opportunity Program.
            • Consultant, Barbri Bar Review.
              Symposia Organization
                Professional Membership
                    Other Service
                    • The Witness to Guantanamo project received a grant from the Sigrid Rausing Trust in London for 300,000 British pounds, which is approximately a half-million U.S. dollars (October 2014). (Witness to Guantanamo will use this new grant money to continue filming and to help find a home to archive this project for history.)
                    • The Witness to Guantanamo project received a grant from the Roddick Foundation in London for 35,000 pounds sterling (2014). 
                    • Interviewed on Chicago radio station WCEV as a witness to Guantanamo project and on the current status of prisoners at Guantanamo (November 2013).
                    • Reached a milestone of 100 interviews for the Witness to Guantanamo Project (November 2012). (As of November 2012, the project has interviewed 45 former detainees and 55 other people who have lived, worked, or were otherwise involved in Guantanamo issues.)
                    • Filmed interviews with nine former detainees in the countries of Morocco and Tunisia for the Witness to Guantanamo project (July 2012).
                    • Filmed interviews with former Guantanamo detainees in London, England, and Lativa, in addition to militiary officials in Washington, D.C. and New York for the Witness to Guantanamo project (August 2011).
                    • Filmed interview with Estela Lebron, the mother of Jose Padilla, an American citizen who was tortured and held in isolation by the Navy for nearly four years (July 2011).
                    • Filmed interviews of four former Guantanamo detainees in Kuwait and the father of a detainee still in Guantanamo (January 2011).
                    • Filmed interviews with three individuals in December, including the former general counsel for the Navy and a former Muslim chaplain for the Army (December 2010).
                    • Filmed interviews with five people, including former detainees in Europe and several "other voices" for the Witness to Guantanamo project (August 2010).
                    • Filmed interviews with three former detainees (Uhghurs) in Bermuda, a chief prosecutor for Guantanamo and a FBI profiler who worked in Guantanamo (May 2010).
                    • Filmed interviews with a former Guantanamo prison guard, who had converted to the Muslim religion while in the prison, and a former military JAG officer, who represented a young man who was 14 when first captured and kept in Guantanamo for more than eight years (May 2010).
                    • Member of the bars of California and New York
                    • Filmed interviews with three former Guantanamo detainees in Europe and a former prison guard (September 2010).
                    • Filmed interviews of former Guantanamo detainees in Palau (January 2010).
                    • Launched Witness to Guantanamo website (January 2010). The website includes testimony of detainees' treatment in Guantanamo Bay.
                    • Filmed interviews of 16 former Guantanamo detainees in five European countries (Albania, Bosnia, France, Germany, and England) for the Witness to Guantanamo project (August 2009).