The Guantanamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison outside the Law

The Guantanamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison outside the Law

The Guantanamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison outside the Law

The Guantanamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison outside the Law

Excerpt

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. Many had wives and children. And the prisoners had some other things in common. They were all detained for years without charges, without trial, and without a fair hearing. They were all denied any legal status or protection because President Bush had unilaterally declared them “unlawful combatants.” They were all held in secret and denied communication with their families and loved ones. Most, if not all, were subjected to extreme isolation, physical and mental abuse, and, in some instances, torture. Many were innocent; none was provided an opportunity to prove it.

These are their stories. The stories are told by their lawyers because the prisoners themselves were silenced. From the moment the first prisoners arrived at Guantánamo shackled and hooded in January 2002, the U.S. government prevented them from communicating with the outside world. The United States initially refused even to reveal the prisoners' names. No one knew who was at Guantánamo, why they had been imprisoned there, or how they were being treated. The public knew only what the Bush administration told it: that the detainees there were all hardened terrorists, “the worst of the worst.”

It took lawyers more than two years—and a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court—to finally gain the right to visit and talk to the men 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, observe their suffering, and begin to describe to the world the truth about . . .

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