Author: ebradshaw2116

I am a student at IU McKinney School of Law

My Mission to Monitor Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba


Erin Bradshaw pointing at the state of Indiana on a globe for her Indiana State University Graduation 2021

I was just finishing my first year of law school at Indiana University McKinney School of Law, when I learned that Indiana University McKinney Professor George Edwards was looking for a Research Assistant, focusing on an area long of interest to me — international human rights law.

I applied and he hired me to work for the law school’s Program in International Human Rights Law.

While researching Professor Edwards, I read about his efforts in Guantanamo Bay of the last two decades. I found this interesting, for many reasons.

I told Professor Edwards about my interests in Guantanamo. I learned that the Program in International Human Rights Law had been selected by the Pentagon to be a “non-governmental organization” (NGO) with “Observer Status”, and could thus send IU McKinney students, faculty, staff and graduates to Guantanamo Bay to monitor hearings.

He sent me an online link to apply to travel to Guantanamo Bay to monitor hearings. I immediately “registered” at the link for Guantanamo travel for the 2022 summer.

I waited in anticipation, hoping I would be chosen to go.

About a week ago, I woke up to an email from Professor Edwards asking to talk with me about Guantanamo, in what turned out to be an “interview”. We talked about a number of topics, including the incredibly in-depth process I would have to go through if I were nominated to travel to Guantanamo Bay.

Not long after, I was informed by Professor Edwards that I had been nominated to travel to Guantanamo to monitor hearings in the case against five alleged co-conspirators in the 9/11 attacks, with the lead defendant being Khalid Shaik Mohammad.

Then, I received my first message from the Pentagon, accepting the Program in International Human Rights Law nomination of me, and providing me with a lengthy list requirements for me to meet before flying to Guantanamo.

Among the requirements were to complete six documents, related to travel, security, liability release, and behavior.

My proposed travel date to Guantanamo is in June 2022.

About Me:

As mentioned, I am just now finishing my first year of law school.
As of now, I hope to pursue my interest in international human rights law after graduation, along the same lines as what Professor Edwards does in his work.
My interest started when my family adopted my sister in China in 2006.
During my youth, I learn more about where she came from and the violations against human rights there.
My first advanced degree was from Indiana State University, where I studied legal studies and a minor in political science. Law school was not my initial plan; I was a nursing major first. After my first year in nursing, I decided it wasn’t for me and began to pursue a certificate in paralegal studies, later deciding to go to law school.

My Mission:

Regarding Guantanamo Bay travel, my mission – indeed the mission of all observers / monitors from IU McKinney School of Law — is: to attend, observe, be seen, analyze, critique, and publish materials on the military commission hearings. We are meant to be objective, independent, impartial, and non-aligned with any stakeholder group.


As mentioned, the Pentagon sends six complex documents to complete. I will
explain those documents in a future blog post.

In addition, I have to complete many documents through the Indiana
University Office of International Affairs.

Furthermore, I understand that I have to complete some documents for the
Program in International Human Rights Law. One of the most important documents is the Guantanamo Checklist which includes tasks to be done before the trip, during, and after. Among these tasks are items such as booking your ticket to D.C. and arranging travel to the Joint Base Andrews, which is where I am leaving from to go to Cuba. 

I am also required to read the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual and the Know Before You Go. Both of these required readings are essential in ensuring I am a successful observer in my trip to observe the trial. Also, part of my obligations as an IU McKinney monitor is to help revise these two manuals.

My next blog posting will deal with documents and other steps I have to
take, including making arrangements to travel to Joint Base Andrews for the
flight to Guantanamo. Also, as a Research Assistant for the Program in International
Human Rights Law, and have been working with the Program’s Military Commission
Observation Project’s Advisory Council, I may be able to report on some aspects
of the Guantanamo Project from an inside perspective.

I am very excited for this journey and the experience and knowledge I will hope
to obtain as a Research Assistant, and as a person nominated for this very
important mission.

Erin Bradshaw

J.D. Candidate (2024)

NGO Observer, Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP)

Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL)

Indiana University McKinney School of Law