29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent review of Administration's detention policies over the past 5 years
Hearing much about the myriad court cases running through the system the past several years in regard to Guantanamo, this book did a great job detailing the Administration's position and laying out the misguidedness of this policy. I found much about the book shocking for many of the truths revealed as to how our Administration has allowed the torture of "enemy...
Published on July 5, 2006 by RBL
4 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Historical First
If only we had had human rights lawyers preserving the rights of German, Italian, and Japanese prisoners of war. That would have advanced the war effort during WWII. FDR and Truman must be characterized as war criminals too given the narrow criteria of the author. It is merely mincing words to describe the detainees as somehow different than prisoners of war. The UN...
Published on October 5, 2008 by Raymond A. Millen
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent review of Administration's detention policies over the past 5 years,
Hearing much about the myriad court cases running through the system the past several years in regard to Guantanamo, this book did a great job detailing the Administration's position and laying out the misguidedness of this policy. I found much about the book shocking for many of the truths revealed as to how our Administration has allowed the torture of "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo and has encouraged the torture of these people by foreign governments (i.e. Egypt, Pakistan). Margulies does a good job of concisely explaining the history of Guantanamo as well as laying out a very thoughtful and powerful argument against the Administration. He traces back into US military conflicts over the past 50 years to show why the Administration's current policies contradict everything for which our country stands. Most impressive about Margulies' book is the lack of partisan ranting and uncivil discourse heard by other Bush opponents. Margulies succeeds in convincing the reader that from both a Left and Right standpoint the Bush Administration has overstepped its bounds and put our country more at risk, not less.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone Who Cares About The Rule of Law Should Read This Book,
"Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power" is a powerful and extraordinary book about the Bush Administration's attempt to create a law-free zone at Guantanamo, Cuba, where suspected terrorists can be held outside of judicial scrutiny and tortured for information on al-Qaeda. Anyone who cares about the U.S. Constitution, the law of war, our relationship with the Islamic world, or the successful prosecution of the war on terror should read this book. The revelations of Bush Administration incompetence and criminality are shocking.
The book is written from a lawyer's perspective and lays out clearly the history of the Guantanamo prison and the legal battles over the treatment of prisoners there. As the author stresses, the torture tactics have done immense damage to American prestige yet produced little if any valuable intelligence. This failure should not be a surprise, since most of the prisoners are either innocent of terrorist activity or were Taliban small-fry with no connection to September 11 or other attacks on U.S. targets. That hundreds of these pathetic men are still incarcerated speaks volumes about the indecency of the Bush Administration and its inability to admit that it ever makes mistakes.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court and the U.S. Senate have stepped in to curb the worst abuses and to restore some sanity to our detention policies. They have partially rescued America's good name and commitment to the rule of law. However, until officials of the Bush Administration are put on trial for violations of the War Crimes Act and the Torture Act, the stain on our national honor will not be fully erased.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A frightening and sad book that can set your hair almost on fire.,
I truly wish this book were fiction, so that I might consider it merely a thought-provoking, witty and beguiling book, as humorous as Joseph Heller's "Catch 22". But alas, this is not fiction. And the reality that this book is not fiction of a perverse, evil and unfair mind, and that it is as true and real as the tiny, crawling, white worms one so often finds in an old bag of rice, actually paralyzed me at moments with fright as I read the book at night, and I felt as if my hair was almost set on fire.
The author, Joseph Margulies, is an attorney at Mac Arthur Justice Center, and a law professor at Northwestern University Law School in Chicago. He has been honored with the prestigious Sullivan Award (2005) for the commendable service he did in protecting our civil liberties, and also for challenging the detention policies of the Bush administration at Guantanamo Bay. At a time when the members and the chairmen of the relevant oversight committees of both the Congress and the Senate (the House and Senate Judiciary Committee, e.g.) have done nothing to either halt or restrain the blatantly unconstitutional policies (the Supreme Court has now clearly said so) and atrocities of the Bush Whitehouse, it is admirable that the author has strived, often pro bono, to force the Bush White House, in federal courts, to abide by our constitution and also the Geneva Conventions. (The White House has now said that it will abide by the Geneva Conventions!). By striving so courageously to rescue the Guantanamo Bay detainees from a legal Black Hole, he has won the admiration of decent people from around the world, and we should consider ourselves fortunate that we have a man of his caliber and decency living amongst us.
Writes Margulies: "The Bush administration claims all the authority that could conceivably flow to the executive branch during a time of armed conflict, but accepts none of the restrictions. The result is unchecked, almost imperial power: the power to define the enemy, to act against this enemy anywhere in the world, to imprison him indefinitely without legal process and under any conditions, and to prevent review of any of these discretionary actions by the courts. All of this power is limited to the president's promise to exercise it wisely. Nowhere is this power, and its abuse, more evident than at Guantanamo Bay."
Further, he states: "In the end, the detentions at Guantanamo are important not simply -- and perhaps not even principally- because of the unpardonable treatment the men and boys have been forced to endure, and not simply because of the unprecedented legal position the Administration has taken to defend this state of affairs. Guantanamo is important, as well, because of what it reveals about the Administration's vision of presidential power, and the lengths to which it will go to defend this radical vision."
"What distinguishes us from terrorists is our devotion to the rule of law," he has said. He is confident that "sooner or later the U. S. government would see Guantanamo as a big mistake". Well, a majority of learned people all over the world already think so, and now even the United States Supreme Court has said so. It is shocking that the man who articulated this absurd policy, attorney general Alberto Gonzalez, is still in office, leading our Justice Department. What a shame! The author is certain that the Bill of Rights will eventually prevail, just as it did in the Japanese internment cases during World War II. "At that time people thought it was a great idea. Now we recognize it as shameful. This will happen to Guantanamo as well," the author has said. I only hope he is right.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradigm Shift to the Dark Side - NOT,
Margulies, counsel for Rasul, a former Guantanamo detainee, gently walks the reader through three plus years of litigations with an obstinate Executive (see Rasul v Bush). An Executive, absolutely certain that their paradigm shift to the "dark side" was necessary and justified by its self declared "War on Terror".*
Margulies, in a very readable book, sifts much of the sophistry used by the Executive's lawyers (and supporting sophists) to justify its paradigm shift, concluding:
"It is a sad day when competent lawyers who are asked to play this role [of assisting the Bush administration with a conscious desire to evade and circumvent the requirements of the law] agree to do so. If the rule of law is to be silenced during war, lawyers should not be the ones who silence it."
However, Margulies retreats from any attempt at comparing the Executive's secret worldwide CIA torture centers with the former Soviet gulags. One can understand this in terms of magnitude. Fortunately, America has not approached the millions harmed or killed or murdered in the old Soviet gulags. But elementally, which Margulies focuses on throughout the book, aren't they the same?
In both the gulags and terror centers, governments have authorized or commanded the barbaric and depraved treatment of a human being, resulting in grave harm or serious harm or death, for the purpose of enforcing or justifying or extending their ideology or set of beliefs.
I'm grateful to Margulies for writing this book. I'm more grateful that America still has individuals (e.g. Marulies, Ratner, Swift, Katyal et al) and groups that are willing, to immediately shine a light on our government's dark side. In the beginning all they had was a flashlight. Five years later they had a very intense searchlight!
* As it turns out our Supreme Court's decision, Hamdan v Rumsfeld, published after Margulies' book, lit up the Executive's "dark side", in a paradigm shifting way. However, it was the antithesis of the Executive's paradigm shift. It has truncated if not ended this Executive's very obstinate and likely criminal foray to the dark side.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When You Know The Man,
I applaud Joseph Margulies for his determination and strength in researching to get to the truth. What has been visited upon the inmates of Guantanamo Bay is appalling - I don't care where you're from. Unfortunately this is becoming the norm in the Modern World where the powerful government of this world have put spin on everything and are manipulating the truth for their own gains.
I have known Mamdouh Habib and his wife Maha for over a year now. I spent 5 months investigating the theft of a mobile phone from their home during a raid by Australian law enforcement agencies. I revealed a cover-up and a simply strategy - denial.
Take it from me, Mamdouh IS innocent. Mamdouh and his wife Maha are two of the most beautiful people I know and, even as an atheist, through them I have come to appreciate - if not love - the Muslim faith and its followers.
I am currently aiding them in their fight to regain Mamdouh's passport - a fundamental right, yet something denied because the Australian government is as corrupt and despicable as the US regime.
Love to all who read this book, and see truth as the ultimate goal!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes You Wonder Why Bush Is Not In Prison,
Robert McNamara noted (about WWII), "LeMay said if we lost the war that we would have all been prosecuted as war criminals. And I think he's right. He... and I'd say I... were behaving as war criminals." No question that the only thing that keeps Bush, Rumsfeldt, etc. out of jail is that fact that they are protected by our country's hard to challenge power. If we were a broken power rather than a great power, it seems certain that someone would try to lock them up.
This book confirms that many laws, national and international, regarding torture, detention, and so on have been willfully violated. It is a compelling and disturbing story. And the final chapters are still to be written.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human right & Guantanamo,
This is good research book written by a powerful human right lawyer professor who gave a first hand litigation on behalf of the detainees deemed titled as enemy combatants who lost the dignity and qualification of being human.
He argued with precedents that during war time, enemy combatants had their rights and were subject to Geneva Convention protection. In Guantanamo Bay detention center, he documented that detainees were subject to interrogative techniques being abusive, illegal and immoral. He questioned such reign of terror method to get information to protect Americans are doubtful.
He showed that many of the detainees were the unlikely ones at the wrong time at the wrong place being rounded and ended up at Camp Delta. The torture on these 'suspects' may make a sharp contrast to American Constitution of all men are created equal, due process, human rights and rule of laws. Why it happened in the country with such high moral ground? Do we hear the born-again call for turning the other cheek?
This book will answer why the President justify the camp and technique for protecting the American people.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Confronting a black hole of injustice,
This review is from: Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power (Paperback)
The author was the lead counsel for Rasul and other detainees in the noted Supreme Court case of 2004, Rasul v. Bush. The question in that case underlines the whole bitter debate with the Bush Administration: whether detainees at Guantanamo have the right to challenge their indefinite detention in a fair way. The other big issue in this book involves torture and how the detainees are treated.
The author notes that the United States has always been at the forefront in upholding the Geneva Conventions. Even during the Korean War when the North Koreans treated American POWs barbarically, the U.S. upheld the Conventions. Even during the unconventional Vietnam War when the Viet Cong did not wear uniforms and hid among civilians or when American fliers were tortured in North Vietnam, the U.S. honored the Conventions. According to the Red Cross everyone in enemy hands has some status, either as a POW under the Third Convention or as a civilian under the Fourth Convention. In the past the U.S. has served as a model in upholding these laws of war and had until recently established the moral high ground in the face of lawless torture around the world.
Bush keeps insisting to the American people: "We do not torture." He is not lying according to the narrow definition established in the Justice Department's legal opinion known as the "torture memo" by Yoo and Bybee, and subsequent revisions to that opinion. The author notes the veil of secrecy over the inner workings of Guantanamo, the careful screenings given to visitors, but Time Magazine obtained leaked records concerning the interrogation logs of Mohammed al-Qahtani, which reveal the kind of methods used: solitary confinement, sensory overload, induced hypothermia, sleep deprivation, various devices used to cause severe disorientation, various forms of humiliation; in other words, a systematic breakdown of the human personality, a psychological assault that can be done without laying a hand on the prisoner, intended to lower the detainee not just to the sub-human level but even to the sub-animal level (the chilling comparison by the interrogator to banana rats). The question becomes what else would be found if other interrogation logs were made available.
Secretary Rumsfeld referred to the detainees as "the worst of the worst." But are they really? Beyond the locked gate of national security, the author refers to numerous voices from the military and intelligence services who state that only a minority of the detainees have yielded intelligence of any significant value, that there have been "no big fish", that the majority were "dirt farmers from Afghanistan", or in the case of the author's clients, impressionable youth who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The author notes that only 5% of all detainees were captured by Americans. The rest were rounded up by the Northern Alliance or by war-lords who were more interested in settling scores. The roundup was made even more of a farce by a Defense Department campaign to distribute leaflets offering a bounty for any terrorist.
In response to the Supreme Court's decision in Rasul for judicial review of Guantanamo detainees, the Administration undertook to set up CSRTs (Combatant Status Review Tribunals) in order to determine whether a detainee is an "enemy combatant". But the CSRTs have been so skewed in the interest of national security that evidence is withheld and charges are often hidden in a farcical way. The detainees are also prevented from presenting evidence or testimony unless it is "reasonably available". An example of the absurdity of this process is an exchange quoted here from the petitioner Ait Idir, a petitioner in the forthcoming Boumediene v. Bush Supreme Court case, in which the name of the accuser, an alleged al-Qaeda operative, is not named for security reasons.
The author describes the outlandish charges made against his client Mamdouh Habib from "confessions" he gave after his rendition to Egypt to be tortured. Fortunately for Habib, when they tried to render him to Egypt for a second time, the lid of secrecy was blown off by the press, and he was released without any charges and flown back to his home in Australia after three years of incarceration.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely well-written, intelligent arguments.,
One of the few books I've read about any controversial topic that resists the temptation to start name-calling, insult-slinging and obvious political agendas.
Dr. Margulies succeeds in explaining legal arguments in a way that is engaging and not condescending. He addresses every question you could have about torture and then some. He does something many authors fail to do: he argues his point in a greater context than the argument itself. That is to say, anyone can argue torture in the context of laws or the Geneva Convetions. Dr. Margulies goes further and discusses torture in the context of security for civilians and soldiers and foriegn policy, and then also provides the background for the writing of the Geneva Conventions and why we have refrained from torture in the past.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ FOR EVERY REAL AMERICAN,
see through the baloney and propaganda and consider the serious crimes our current regime commits against justice, truth, and humanity.
Every child in America should study this book instead of preparing for Bush's set-up-for-failure NCLB tests which spell the end of public education in America. The educated cannot be so easily fooled.
Then read Elaine Cassell's book on Bush and the end of civil liberties, and the HOnorable Senator Byrd's book on Bush.
Then have a beer with Michael Moore and put up your feet on the coffee table, dear, because it's all over anyway but the domestic spying. Hello, 1984, all over again.
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Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power by Joseph Margulies (Paperback - July 3, 2007)