The Terror Courts Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay Jess Bravin

Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
19 Feb 2013
ISBN:
9780300189209
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
448 pages: 235 x 156 x 30mm
Illustrations:
16 b-w illus.

Soon after the September 11 attacks in 2001, the United States captured hundreds of suspected al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan and around the world. By the following January the first of these prisoners arrived at the U.S. military’s prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they were subject to President George W. Bush’s executive order authorizing their trial by military commissions. Jess Bravin, the Wall Street Journal’s Supreme Court correspondent, was there within days of the prison’s opening, and has continued ever since to cover the U.S. effort to create a parallel justice system for enemy aliens. A maze of legal, political, and moral issues has stood in the way of justice—issues often raised by military prosecutors who found themselves torn between duty to the chain of command and their commitment to fundamental American values.

While much has been written about Guantanamo and brutal detention practices following 9/11, Bravin is the first to go inside the Pentagon’s prosecution team to expose the real-world legal consequences of those policies. Bravin describes cases undermined by inadmissible evidence obtained through torture, clashes between military lawyers and administration appointees, and political interference in criminal prosecutions that would be shocking within the traditional civilian and military justice systems. With the Obama administration planning to try the alleged 9/11 conspirators at Guantanamo—and vindicate the legal experiment the Bush administration could barely get off the ground—The Terror Courts could not be more timely.

Jess Bravin, Supreme Court correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, has covered the Guantanamo military commissions since 2001. The author of Squeaky: The Life and Times of Lynette Fromme, he is based in Washington, DC.

'This is the genius of Bravin's book - and what sets it apart from what has come before. He doesn't just give us context and perspective about the ideological battles waged among Bush Administration officials over torture. He doesn't just explain why the Obama Administration still has failed to recover from the early errors of judgment that marked the first tribunal processes. He also highlights the utterly self-defeating role played by the military-political complex.' Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic

'A gripping narrative told with superb journalistic thoroughness, great legal sensitivity, and impressive moral clarity'. Times Literary Supplement

'A book that pulls no punches. It names names. And in so doing, it is a gutsy, finely wrought narrative that explains how a small group of Bush-era political appointees managed to develop a parallel justice system designed to ensure a specific outcome.' Dina Temple-Rastin, Washington Post

'It’s a pity that Kathryn Bigelow, the director of the acclaimed war-on-terror thriller Zero Dark Thirty, didn’t have the opportunity to read Jess Bravin’s meticulously reported account of America’s trial practices for post-September 11 terror suspects, The Terror Courts.' Jane Mayer, Democracy

'A welcome addition to the history of national security legal policy dilemmas in the Bush era, a turbulent period whose consequences still ripple.' Charlie Savage, New York Times

'The most creative and original feature of Bravin’s book is that he tells the story from within the executive branch itself.' Literary Review