Saturday, December 01, 2007

Guantánamo Book Club II

Last fall, I posted a list of ten readings recommended for those interested in the representation of Guantánamo prisoners (here). On the eve of the Supreme Court argument in Boumediene, I have six additions to the list.

1. Clive Stafford Smith, Eight O'Clock Ferry To The Windward Side: This is a wonderful book by one of the leading lawyers for Guantánamo prisoners, a former death penalty defender and current attorney for the human rights organization Reprieve. You may have noticed recent media articles regarding the scary/comic accusation that Clive smuggled underwear to detainees; his letter in response is available (here). His book vividly describes lawyer life at Guantánamo and, most importantly, provides human faces to the Inmate Serial Numbers living in the no-law zones of Guantánamo and secret prisons abroad.

2. Boumediene briefing: It's time to start cramming, and all the party and amicus briefing for the oral argument, scheduled for December 5, 2007, is available here. The Supreme Court has announced that the audio of the oral argument will be available shortly after it is completed on the Supreme Court website. The argument should be especially interesting because former Solicitor General Seth Waxman is arguing for the petitioners; Solicitor General Paul Clement will be arguing for the government. An Oregon perspective on Boumediene is available from amicus briefs filed in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals here and here.

3. Clark B. Lombardi and Nathan J. Brown, Do Constitutions Requiring Adherence To Shari’a Threaten Human Rights? This law review article in the American University International Law Review (available here) provides historical and contemporary views of the evolution of Islamic law. The article provides the opportunity to better understand our clients' cultural backgrounds and to innoculate ourselves against simplistic media stereotyping of what Shari’a is.

4. Darius Rejali, Torture And Democracy: I have just started this astounding treatise on the theory and practice of torture by an international torture expert and Reed College professor. The idea that there is a sociology and politics of torture came slowly to me; however, Professor Rajali’s forensic analysis of our Guantánamo client who was a Taliban torture victim showed how social science could corroborate accounts of torture. I now see better the theoretical context in which Professor Rejali practices. This study should be the starting point for informed discussion of torture and America.

5. Christopher J. Schatz and Noah A.F. Horst, Will Justice Delayed Be Justice Denied? Crisis Jurisprudence, The Guantánamo Detainees, The Imperiled Role Of Habeas Corpus In Curbing Abusive Government Detentions: This article in the Lewis & Clark Law Review, written by a Federal Public Defender lawyer and law clerk, provides a detailed and readable history of habeas corpus jurisprudence leading up to Boumediene (available here). The authors argue that habeas corpus review of executive detention is a fundamental attribute of judicial power and that our history and constitutional structure does not tolerate a legal no-fly zone where non-persons can be indefinitely imprisoned.

6. Reza Aslan, No God But God: This is a highly accessible and sophisticated account of the origins, evolution, and future of Islam. The headlines are easier to understand in the context of historical trends and contemporary conflicts.

Steve Sady, Chief Deputy Federal Public Defender, Portland, Oregon


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