Winner 2006

This American Life: “Habeas Schmabeas”

WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Have you heard the one about the Pakistani brothers who printed a mock wanted poster in their satirical magazine, sort of a Pashtu edition of The Onion, and wound up terrorist suspects imprisoned at Guantanamo for three years? It’s not a joke. Their Kafka-esque experience provided This American Life with a darkly comic point of entry into an examination of the legal right of habeas corpus. This installment of the creatively curious series, heard on some 500 public-radio stations weekly, explored what it means for an individual to lose that right and what it means for a democratic nation to suspend it. The Habeas Schmabeas episode includes everything from first-hand accounts of interrogation and torture to a profile of Lord Clarendon, a top advisor to England’s King Charles II whose trampling of prisoners’ legal rights led to his impeachment and the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679. For clarifying and emphasizing the significance of a fundamental American legal right and for giving voice to victims of its abuse, a Peabody goes to This American Life: Habeas Schmabeas.


Executive producer: Ira Glass. Producers: Sarah Koenig, Julie Snyder, Alex Blumberg, Diane Cook, Jane Feltes, Amy O’Leary, Lisa Pollak. Reporter: Jack Hitt, Jon Ronson.