Stories from an Enduring Prison
by Jonathan Hafetz
Pub Date 05 Jul 2016
The U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay has become the symbol of an unprecedented detention system of global reach and immense power. Since the 9/11 attacks, the news has on an almost daily basis headlined stories of prisoners held indefinitely at Guantánamo without charge or trial, many of whom have been interrogated in violation of restrictions on torture and other abuse. These individuals, once labeled “enemy combatants” to eliminate legal restrictions on their treatment, have in numerous instances been subject to lawless renditions between prisons around the world. The lines between law enforcement and military action; crime and war; and the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of power have become dangerously blurred, and it is time to unpack the evolution and trajectory of these detentions to devise policies that restore the rule of law and due process.
Obama’s Guantánamo describes President Obama’s failure to close America’s enduring offshore detention center, as he had promised to do within his first year in office, and the costs of that failure for those imprisoned there. Like its predecessor, The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law, Obama’s Guantánamo consists of accounts from lawyers who have not only represented detainees, but also served as their main connection to the outside world. Their stories provide us with an accessible explanation of the forces at work in the detentions and place detainees’ stories in the larger context of America’s submission to fearmongering. These stories demonstrate all that is wrong with the prison and the importance of maintaining a commitment to human rights even in times of insecurity.
Jonathan Hafetz is Associate Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School. He is the author of Habeas Corpus after 9/11: Confronting America’s New Global Detention System (NYU Press, 2011) and co-editor of The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law (NYU Press, 2010).