Moe Davis is a retired Air Force Colonel, former Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, Director of the Air Force Judiciary, law professor, judge, speaker, writer and national security expert who has appeared on news shows from NBC to CNN, CBS, Fox, MSNBC and NPR.
If that was all he accomplished, Davis would already have a career unmatched by most. But add to that the honors he received — including the prestigious Legion of Merit, six Meritorious Service Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Headquarters Air Force Judge Advocate of the Year award, among others.
Yet all of that is not what truly defines Davis.
The decisions made and the stands taken in the gut-check moments of his life make Moe Davis the right candidate to represent North Carolina’s 11thDistrict in Congress.
Born and raised in Shelby, N.C., the son of a man 100 percent disabled by an accident while in the Army preparing to go to World War II, Davis graduated from Appalachian State and N.C. Central School of Law. Shortly after passing the bar exam, his father died of a heart attack. In part to honor his father, Davis decided to join the Air Force, the start of a 25-year career of service in the military.
He nearly sacrificed that career to take a stand for what he believed in.
In 2007, while serving as Chief Prosecutor for Terrorism Trials at Guantanamo Bay, Davis dared to take on the Bush Administration. He was ordered to use evidence obtained through torture in his prosecutions. Davis refused. That decision came at a price; to uphold his principles, Davis had no choice but to resign his position at Guantanamo. Davis believes the Legion of Merit was initially withheld as punishment for defying the Bush Administration before he finally received the honor.
For his stand against torture and the political pressure placed on prosecutors at Guantanamo, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) honored Davis by including him in, “Those Who Dared: 30 Officials Who Stood Up For Our Country.”
That was not the last time Davis stood up for what he believed was right. In 2008, after retiring from the Air Force, Davis became assistant director and senior specialist in national security for the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress. But when Davis wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal that was critical of the Obama Administration’s handling of prosecutions at Guantanamo Bay, he was fired.
Davis challenged his dismissal in court, believing his First Amendment right to free speech was infringed. He ultimately won his suit and received the Justice Charles E. Whittaker Award for professional courage and integrity. He also was given the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award.
Why take a stand and risk his career? As Davis said, borrowing from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s familiar theme, “It’s always the right time to do the right thing.”
Davis completed his career as a judge with the U.S. Department of Labor before moving to Asheville, where he and his wife Lisa are building a home. Their daughter Ashley lives in Falls Church, Va.
Back home in North Carolina, Davis is taking a stand once again in his life. He hopes to serve as Congressman in the 11thDistrict and give Western North Carolina a true voice in Washington.
Among those who have endorsed his candidacy: Dr. David Crane, the former Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and served as Commissioner on the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture; COL Lawrence Wilkerson, (Ret.), former Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell and a Commissioner on the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture; Laurence Tribe, Harvard Law Professor and expert on Constitutional Law who taught President Barack Obama and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts; and Eugene R. Fidell, Founder and President Emeritus of the National Institute of Military Justice and Senior Research Scholar in Law and Florence Rogatz Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, where he lectures on military justice and Guantanamo.
“Moe Davis is a true American hero, someone who steps forward to do the right thing always,’’ Dr. Crane said. “To many, his heroic stepping away from Guantanamo in protest to the torture, and his principled criticism of anyone who steps away from the rule of law throughout his distinguished military and federal career, mark him as someone who represents all that is good about America and her armed forces. I have known Moe for decades and as a Western North Carolinian know that he is ‘mountain strong’ and will represent us all honestly and openly in Congress.”
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