The Guantanamo Lawyers
Inside a Prison Outside the Law
Publication Year: 2009
Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the United States imprisoned more than seven hundred and fifty men at its naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. These men, ranging from teenage boys to men in their eighties from over forty different countries, were detained for years without charges, trial, and a fair hearing. Without any legal status or protection, they were truly outside the law: imprisoned in secret, denied communication with their families, and subjected to extreme isolation, physical and mental abuse, and, in some instances, torture.
These are the detainees’ stories, told by their lawyers because the prisoners themselves were silenced. It took habeas counsel more than two years—and a ruling from the United States Supreme Court—to finally gain the right to visit and talk to their clients at Guantánamo. Even then, lawyers were forced to operate under severe restrictions designed to inhibit communication and envelop the prison in secrecy. In time, however, lawyers were able to meet with their clients and bring the truth about Guantánamo to the world.
The Guantánamo Lawyers contains over one hundred personal narratives from attorneys who have represented detainees held at “GTMO” as well as at other overseas prisons, from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to secret CIA jails or “black sites.” Mark Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz—themselves lawyers for detainees—collected stories that cover virtually every facet of Guantánamo, and the litigation it sparked. Together, these moving, powerful voices create a historical record of Guantánamo’s legal, human, and moral failings, and provide a window into America's catastrophic effort to create a prison beyond the law.
An online archive, hosted by New York University Libraries, will be available at the time of publication and will contain the complete texts as well as other accounts contributed by Guantánamo lawyers. The documents will be freely available on the Internet for research, teaching, and non-commercial uses, and will be preserved indefinitely as a historical collection.
Published by: NYU Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States imprisoned more than 750 men at its naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The prisoners ranged in age from teenage boys to elderly men. They were seized from more than forty countries around the world: some from Afghanistan, others from places as far flung as Bosnia and the Gambia ...
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That’s what I was wondering one hot day last July when I walked across a prison yard so silent and sterile as to be a little eerie. Nothing grew in the yard: no grass or flower or tree or even weed. We approached a hut. Inside was a man chained to the floor. His name was Adel. My firm had filed a ...
1. Representing the “Worst of the Worst”
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Initially, only a small number of attorneys came to the defense of the detainees at Guantánamo. In the immediate aftermath of September 11, most people did not question the actions of the U.S. government, and little was known about the new detention center. Over time, however, it became clear that the United ...
2. Getting behind the Wire
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The first step in challenging the detentions at Guantánamo was gaining access to the prisoners who were being held in secret and without legal process. It took more than two years and a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to achieve this first, but critical, step in the habeas corpus litigation. ...
3. Uncovering Guantánamo’s Human Face
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By the time lawyers were first permitted access to Guantánamo detainees in 2004, their clients had been imprisoned for more than two and a half years without access to a court or the outside world. Many had been subjected to torture and other abuse. All had endured unremitting isolation and the effects ...
4. Red Tape and Kangaroo Courts
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After the Supreme Court’s June 2004 decision in Rasul v. Bush granted attorneys the right to see their clients, the U.S. government immediately sought to restrict attorneys’ access to Guantánamo and to the detainees. It claimed, for example, the right to monitor lawyers’ conversations with their clients and ...
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At Guantánamo, illegal detentions and sham military trials were part of a larger cruel and dehumanizing prison system—a system built on torture and other abuse. The mistreatment of detainees in turn helped drive the Bush administration’s effort to keep everything at Guantánamo secret and to avoid any ...
6. Alternative Forms of Advocacy
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With the Bush administration determined to block legal challenges from going forward, a Congress twice willing to eliminate habeas corpus, and the courts failing to act swiftly in the cases before them, attorneys turned to alternative channels of advocacy on behalf of their clients. Those alternative channels included
7. Leaving Guantánamo
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The obstacles to leaving Guantánamo are tremendous, even for those prisoners whom the United States says it no longer wishes to detain. For example, many detainees who have been cleared for release still remain at Guantánamo, facing a seemingly endless cycle of failed efforts to repatriate them. Other detainees who ...
8.Guantánamo beyond Cuba:A Global Detention System outside the Law
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Guantánamo was never simply a prison but was part of an effort to create a globalwide system of prisons beyond the law. Although these prisons varied in some respects, they shared the core features of Guantánamo: indefinite detention without charge or due process, torture and other abuse, pervasive secrecy, ...
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It was the part of the afternoon that pops the thermometers in Guantánamo from “Sweltering” to “Broiling,” yet that hardly seemed to faze the female soldier jogging past our van. “Around here, we call it the ‘2-9-2,’” yelled our escort from the front, struggling to be heard over the noise of the van willing ...
Timeline: Guantánamo and the “War on Terror”
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Page Count: 448
Publication Year: 2009