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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story behind the propaganda, April 5, 2010
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This review is from: The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law (Hardcover)
I've read many amazing books in my life, but this is the first time I've been moved to write a review. I often highlight books as a left-over habit from school. Most books I've read have a bit of highlighting every 20 to 40 pages. This one has highlighting on nearly every page.

This story couldn't be told as fiction - no one would believe it and every editor would bounce it as completely unrealistic. But this story isn't fiction. It's what our government has done, right under our very noses, for the past eight years.

We all know the story of Guantanamo Bay - or think we do. In the fear-filled days after September 11, 2001, hundreds of men were swept up on or near battlefields, from their homes, from refugee camps, and from many other places. They were accused of being "enemy combatants" who committed acts of "hostility" against the United States. They were "the worst of the worst" and we needed a secure place to house them until the "end" of the "war on terror".

But the stories told by the lawyers who compiled this book tell a far different story. These men, far from being "the worst of the worst" are more accurately "the least of the least". Most are completely innocent - guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those who are guilty at all are low-level functionaries of al Qaeda, mostly forcibly conscripted. Housed in unspeakable conditions, never charged with crimes, given no opporunity to prove their innocence, these men have languished and many have slowly descended into madness and ruinous health. Even today hundreds still linger, cleared of all charges, but with nowhere to go because no government, including our own, will take men declared to be "the worst of the worst".

The most important part of this work is that it's impossible to dismiss it as simply a "liberal hit piece". Of the books' 100+ contributors, many are current or former military lawyers. Most of the rest hail from large conservative law firms. None of them set out to indict the Bush administration; they simply set out to do what lawyers do - even "the worst of the worst" are entitled to representation. But their experiences, and the government's own documents which they were able to access, led them to that conclusion. Furthermore, the book is not significantly kinder to the Obama administration than to the Bush administration. Despite his promises to close Guantanamo and open up government records for greater transparency, Obama has continued on a foreign policy course, including his policies with respect to GITMO, which is strikingly similar to that of the Bush administration.

I've read many books regarding such horrors as Nazi Germany, the Inquisition, etc. and I'm always left with a pit-of-the-stomach sick feeling - how can humans be so cruel to other humans? This book left me with a similar sick feeling, only much worse. I can't dismiss this episode of history as "those people". This was and is being done by my country within my own lifetime. We as Americans need to speak out. It's well past time to reclaim our once-proud name.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We Are Better Than This!, November 14, 2009
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This review is from: The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law (Hardcover)
Yes, we have all heard about the abuse of detainees in Guantanamo. As reported by third parties, the details of abuse and torture are horrific, yet fail to convey the emotional impact of these events on human beings. In The Guantanamo Lawyers, we hear through their attorneys the actual words of detainees as they describe the terror and hopelessness that comes from being imprisoned under wretched circumstances with no sense of future. Some have been driven to hunger strikes and suicide. Extraordinarily, many in our country including some of our leaders have told us that what is happening in Guantanamo is fine. They tell us that the detainees are the worst of the worst. Yet, there is much evidence in this book to the contrary. Most of the detainees, we learn, were not picked up on any battlefield. Many came into American custody as the result of being turned in by others for large bounties. Nevertheless, at the prompting of our leaders, we are told to believe that these people are so evil as to warrant no access to courts, the Geneva Conventions,or civilized treatment. The rule of law does not apply! Speaking against our use of torture, John McCain said that "we are better than this." Hopefully, readers of this book and political leaders will agree with McCain and become advocates of American values in the treatment of the detainees.

What is heartening about this book is that we also learn of patriotic American lawyers, both civilian and military, who are so offended by detainee government policy that they have spent time, energy, and great effort to bring the true story of Guantanamo to our attention and to represent the detainees. Military lawyers have even resigned in protest. They represent the better angels of ourselves and the true warriors for American values. Their story is an important reminder of how we, as Americans, respect the rule of law and the humanity of all people even as we are frightened by awful events of 9/11 and other violence against our citizens.

I urge you to read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The most profound, thought provoking book I have ever read, February 3, 2011
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If I describe this as the most profound, thought provoking book I have ever read it would still be an understatement. Had I read this book before or during my University days it would quite possibly have motivated me to change careers....that's how profound this book is.
I saw this book and pondered whether to buy it. It seemed interesting but I reckoned it was covering a theme that had been flogged to death by both sides of the argument and that it would at best be pedestrian and at worst too academic. Boy, was I wrong.
The basic tenet of this book is about "Habeas corpus", a right we all take for granted if arrested, but a right that was suspended by the American Government for a certain group of individuals and another group who felt that to be an illegal act. It is about the twists and turns to get that action recognised as being an illegal act and once done to have Habeas Corpus enforced to the benefit of all. It teaches us that certain rights we feel to be inalienable...should in fact, not be taken for granted.
This book is at times crushingly depressing, for obvious reasons, and incredibly uplifting, because you realise there are people who have strong moral compasses who fight for truth and justice even if it makes them unpopular. Every page is absolutely riveting. Some pages will make you smile,Clive Stafford Smith and his exchange of letters with the commanding officer of Guantanamo concerning prisoners underpants being one such story. Many more pages will bring tears to your eyes but every page makes you think...think....think !.
These depositions are written by people whose job it is to bring obtuse concepts and stories alive, to distil complex arguments into manageable bites and to challenge our preconceptions so that a jury can empathise with a defendant or victim. Each piece is eloquently written and deeply felt by the writer. Each piece transports you from your comfortable chair to a place that is decidedly uncomfortable. It beggers belief how a democracy could so fundementally and thoroughly deny prisoners the most basic of human rights. I challange you not to have flashbacks to the searing images of each lawyers description of the bolts in the floor to which prisoners are chained.....in a jail run by a democracy.
It challenges you on every page. You are challenged to accept that the greatest democracy in the world that expounds freedom and the rights of the individual fell into a deep legislative coma after 9/11. That the executive branch of that democracy came close to establishing a "corporate state" in the true 1930's sense of the term; that these detainees were not the "worst of the worst" or mindless terrorists. You are challenged to ask how individuals who took the Hippocratic Oath could have even countenanced condoning torture let alone actively participated in it.
You may be surprised to learn how Jewish lawyers and legal firms were the most ardent defenders of these Muslims "terrorists" who supposedly have dedicated every bone in their bodies to the eradication of their country and their religion. Then again, given how Jews experienced denial of rights in 1930's Europe, and all that led from that, it is little wonder they were at the forefront of this movement. You will also be surprised to learn how detainees who had been brutalised and degraded and deprived of liberty by American citizens, in most cases, bore little ill will to America.
You are in awe of these true American patriots who at a time when it was deeply unpopular went back to the basics of why and how the United States was founded and challenged the system to remain faithful to that ethos of the founding fathers. You are amazed by the courage of this group, some only starting careers others with well established careers, which they could easily have stood to loose, that they could have the incredible courage to swim against the tide and wake all of us, Americans and non-Americans alike, from the stupor into which we fell that allowed draconian and largely ineffective legislation to be enacted whereby hard won rights and freedoms were overnight swept away.
We owe them a deep debt of gratitude.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading, December 4, 2009
By 
Bruce (Albany, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law (Hardcover)
This book is an excellent collection of brief statements (a few pages each) by lawyers and others such as interpreters who have been involved in the litigation process at Guantanamo. It is not an in depth analysis, but rather a series of reflections on various aspects of the process. It helps define the problems of United States with respect to the Guantanamo Detainees and the Judicial process divised to determine whether there is any guilt for the particular detainee. It helps flesh out the details of how they were captured, how much (or how little) the government initially did to determine the significance of the detainees, and how the prosecution, such as it was, was attempted and modified. The statements are clear and well written. There clearly is a unifying perspective that the process was faulty. However, the diversity of the people writing the statements strengthens the conclusion that the process was flawed. There are corporate lawyers, lawyers from small private firms, and even military lawyers, including one who headed a tribunal.
The book documents serious flaws in the process (if your are someone who still believes that the United States still should have a committment to rule of law and justice for all). It also demonstrates the patriotism and commitment to American Ideals of the numerous lawyers and others who donated their time for minimal if any compensation. As such, it also demonstrates the strength of the United States to correct its errors. Unfortunately, too few people currently are as committed to these ideals as the people in this book. A number of people who are otherwise educated and up to date on current events are largely unaware of the events and issues detailed in this book. Reading this book should enlarge one's understanding of the situation, and perhaps lead to a greater commitment to these ideals.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading, November 11, 2009
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Seano (Norristown, PA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law (Hardcover)
The Guantanamo Lawyers is a compilation of first-hand accounts of the lawyers who have been fighting to defend our Constitution from the nightmare that is Guantanamo. There are some gut wrenching stories in here, depicting what life is really like at GTMO for the detainees, for the servicemen & women assigned there, and for the lawyers trying to do their jobs against every obstacle thrown in their way. The human moments are the most memorable - it's much easier to understand why a lawyer would put their life and practice on hold and fight this uphill battle when you can connect to the universal humanity at stake. There is no doubt that some dangerous people are at GTMO, but after reading this book, you'll understand that there are completely innocent people jailed there as well, and these brave lawyers are fighting for the rule of law. If you are a lawyer, a student of law, or just an American who cares about freedom and justice, read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Disturbing, April 5, 2013
By 
Kenneth C. Citarella (North Salem, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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Made me angry and sad and proud all at once. This is a book that will stir powerful emotions. Who are the men in GTMO? Why are they there? How our government, the alleged bastion of liberty, imprisoned many men wrongfully without real evidence of being "enemy combatants" is very disturbing. How we lied to our own citizens and to the world can never be forgiven. But how our justice system , though slowly, responded to this situation and began to shed light upon it and prevent the Executive from exercising unchallenged and unchallengeable power was for me as an attorney a beautiful story to read. It left me wondering about the men still there and if they should be and what their fate will be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must-must read!, January 31, 2013
By 
JFarrell (Milwaukee, WI) - See all my reviews
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More people, especially American citizens, need to realize the real stories about everything these lawyers went through and fought for to protect human rights.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True Patriots, January 5, 2010
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This review is from: The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law (Hardcover)
They say if the walls of the world's slaughterhouses were made of glass, we'd all be vegetarians. And certainly anyone who reads The Guantanamo Lawyers will recoil in horror at this al Qaeda public relations bonanza and cancer on American values.

As the title suggests, the focus of the book is on the American lawyers who have fought on behalf of the Guantanamo detainees (a strange euphemism for men who have been imprisoned indefinitely without evidence, charge, trial, or conviction). In this respect it's an excellent companion to Andy Worthington's equally excellent The Guantanamo Files, which focuses on the prisoners.

The book is not the least bit dry. It's a first-person telling by true American patriots whose horror at the condition and treatment of their clients, elation at hard-fought successes, and frustration with Kakfaesque setbacks are palpable in every paragraph. Read it and ask yourself this: did America become the nation we are despite our values, or because of them? And if the latter, what will become of us if we don't right this terrible wrong?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Guantanamo Lawyers, July 5, 2010
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This review is from: The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law (Hardcover)
This book is shocking to me. I really didn't comprehend the huge consequences of apprehending and imprisoning so many people for so long without just cause. The book is an eye opener. Makes you wonder "What country do I live in?"
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you care about your country, November 12, 2009
This review is from: The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law (Hardcover)
This book really brings to life the whole picture of what happened (and is still happening?) at Guantanamo. The dedication of the lawyers who undertook this task is a tribute to what is great about our country, even in the face of these revelations about our darker side. I plan to give this book as a holiday present to people who truly care about the US.
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The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law
The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law by Mark P. Denbeaux (Hardcover - November 9, 2009)
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