The founder and director of Witness to Guantánamo shares his research on nearly 20 years of lawlessness there.
Since the military prison was founded in 2002, this “detention center for alleged terrorists” has housed inmates who have been held indefinitely without being charged and without legal representation or recourse for enduring extralegal torture. (Most have since been released from custody.) Honigsberg (Univ. of San Francisco School of Law; Our Nation Unhinged: The Human Consequences of the War on Terror, 2009, etc.) and a crew of researchers have conducted 158 videotaped interviews (more than 300 hours of film across 20 countries) with detainees; their distraught family members; Guantánamo guards and interrogators from the U.S. military; civilian and military lawyers; and interpreters hired by the federal government to deal with the mixture of languages spoken by those incarcerated. The author presents factual accounts based on the videotaped interviews and wide-ranging supplemental research. Honigsberg combines his impressive research with his persistent advocacy for detainees who clearly played no role in the 9/11 attacks and who almost certainly never posed any threat to American citizens. In easily understood lay terms, the author explains how the George W. Bush administration ignored federal court rulings regarding humane treatment, how Congress furthered the lawlessness, how federal lawyers invented the status of “enemy combatant,” and how the Obama administration never observed promises to shut down Guantánamo. Some of the most unforgettable profiles in the narrative focus on detainee Mourad Benchellali, interpreter Rushan Abbas, military defense attorney Matt Diaz, civilian defense lawyer Gita Gutierrez (on the staff of the Center for Constitutional Rights), military guard Brandon Neely, journalist Carol Rosenberg, and Damien Corsetti, the so-called “King of Torture.” As presented convincingly by the author, the misconduct by the U.S. government is so egregious that readers with a moral compass could fairly conclude that many individuals have been wrongly incarcerated.
A well-documented, hard-hitting, necessary exposé.