The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First 100 Days 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 20 ratings
ISBN-13: 978-0195371888
ISBN-10: 0195371887
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Editorial Reviews

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Book Description
In January 2002, the first flight of detainees captured in the global war on terror disembarked in Guantanamo Bay. They were dazed, bewildered, and--more often than not--alarmingly thin. Given very little advance notice, the military's preparations for this group of predominantly unimportant ne'er-do-wells were hastily thrown together, but as Karen Greenberg shows, a number of capable and honorable Marine officers tried to create a humane and just detention center--only to be thwarted by the Bush Administration. The Least Worst Place is a gripping narrative account of the first one hundred days of Guantanamo. Greenberg, one of America's leading experts on the Bush Administration's policies on terrorism, tells the story through a group of career officers who tried--and ultimately failed--to stymie the Pentagon's desire to implement harsh new policies in Guantanamo and bypass the Geneva Conventions.

She sets her story in Camp X-Ray, which underwent a remarkably quick transformation from a sleepy naval outpost in the tropics into a globally infamous holding pen. Peopled with genuine heroes and villains, this narrative of the earliest days of the post-9/11 era centers on the conflicts between Gitmo-based Marine officers intent on upholding the Geneva Accords and an intelligence unit set up under the Pentagon's aegis. The latter ultimately won out, replacing transparency with secrecy, military protocol with violations of basic operation procedures, and humane and legal detainee treatment with harsh interrogation methods and torture. Guantanamo's first 100 days set up patterns of power that would come to dominate the Bush administration's overall strategy in the war on terror. Karen Greenberg's riveting account puts a human face on this little-known story, revealing how America first lost its moral bearings in the wake of 9/11.

Photographs from the Book

These photographs were taken at Camp X-Ray, a temporary detention center at Guantanamo Bay. The camp was closed on April 29, 2002.




Detention cells surrounded by wire mesh


Interrogation booths


A wooden building called a SEAhut under construction in the U.S. Marine compound





From Publishers Weekly

This study of values corrupted by the war on terror examines how the Guantánamo Bay detainee camp declined from a relatively enlightened place to a symbol of American brutality. Legal scholar Greenberg (Terrorist Trial Report Card) covers the period from December 2001 through March 2002, when Camp X-Ray opened to house suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives captured in Afghanistan. The story's hero is X-Ray's first commander, Marine Gen. Michael Lehnert, who scrupulously observed the Geneva Conventions; he emerges as an almost saintly figure as he tearfully pleads with detainees to end a hunger strike. The villains are Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Bush administration lawyers, led by John Yoo, who advanced specious rationales for stripping detainees of legal protections that would ban harsh and abusive treatment. Greenberg's account is not an exposé of Guantánamo horrors; instead, she draws a lesson on the banality of goodness—that dutiful adherence to international law, not personal integrity, is the ultimate guarantor of humane policy. Unfortunately, her story's restricted scope and its celebration of Lehnert's personal integrity blur her focus on the legal and institutional determinants of good and evil. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product details

  • Hardcover : 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0195371887
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0195371888
  • Item Weight : 1.18 pounds
  • Product Dimensions : 9.3 x 1.3 x 6.4 inches
  • Publisher : Oxford University Press (March 16, 2009)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.1 out of 5 stars 20 ratings