From Publishers Weekly
In 1992 a team of Yale law students and other human rights activists sought to enjoin the government from detaining Haitian refugees indefinitely at Guantánamo Bay, without charges or access to counsel. Lawyer Goldstein tells their story with authority: he was a classmate of many of the student activists, although not a participant in the case. Two of the primary characters are Harold Koh, the dedicated, even driven, Yale professor who led the legal fight, and the courageous, pseudonymous "Yvonne Pascal," who emerged as a spokeswoman for the Haitian refugees. Goldstein's sympathies are wholeheartedly with the Haitians and those working on their behalf. A greater effort to articulate the government's argument would have improved the book and made the case's mixed outcome more understandable. After protracted litigation in federal court and the U.S. Supreme Court, the Haitians were discharged from Gitmo, but the policy questions involving the reach of the government's power were resolved in the government's favor. This is a timely (given the issue of detaining terror suspects today) and passionate account, but would have benefited from less hero worship of the activists and less demonizing of the government.
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Goldstein has written a compelling story with contemporary significance that thus far has failed to capture the public attention. In 1992, a group of Yale law students began a heroic and substantial effort to free 300 Haitian refugees held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay. The students plodded through this arduous process alone, often risking their goal of high-end employment, and found a way to take on the president and the U.S. government. And they won. This story has a ring of similarity with the Northwestern University journalism students who helped to free some death-row convicts and spark a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois. But a major difference is the lack of public awareness of the law----student efforts, which may reflect a greater discomfort with the issues involved. These 300 detainees were all black Haitians, men, women, and children--all HIV-positive. The Haitians have since all been granted political asylum in the U.S. This story provides an interesting backdrop to discussions about the application of U.S. law to persons held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay. Vernon FordCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved