Richard Bernstein, who writes the “Letters from America” column in the New York Times, has a fantastic review of The Guantanamo Lawyers, ed. By Jonathan Hafetz and Mark Denbeaux, as the topic of his column this week.
“The relations between the roughly 750 men detained over the years in the Guantánamo prison and the lawyers who tried to have their cases heard in American courts — so that civilian judges could determine whether their imprisonment was justified — are among the many elements of a new and remarkable book, “The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison, Outside the Law,” edited by Mark P. Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz, two members of what they call the Guantánamo Bay Bar Association.”
“Still, the new book is an informative and telling chronicle of what Guantánamo is really like, the physical appearance of the place, how the inmates behaved, the Kafkaesque legalistic gymnastics used by the government to try to keep the detainees locked up without recourse to the civilian courts, the use of confessions extracted — according to the book, by force — from detainees not old enough to have driver’s licenses.”
“Most of all, the book presents a sharp challenge to the view of those who supported the detentions at Guantánamo out of the belief that the men detained there really were, as former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld famously put it, “the worst of the worst”
“What is most remarkable about the narrative is that the story it tells took place at all, that more than one hundred American lawyers — from small-town general practitioners to partners at big urban firms, to former military attorneys — would take up these cases and handle them pro bono as a matter of civic responsibility.”