Joseph Margulies

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GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - OCTOBER 28: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by U.S. Military prior to transmission) A group of detainees kneels during an early morning Islamic prayer in their camp at the U.S. military prison for "enemy combatants" on October 28, 2009 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Although U.S. President Barack Obama pledged in his first executive order last January to close the infamous prison within a year's time, the government has been struggling to try the accused terrorists and to transfer them out ahead of the deadline. Military officials at the prison point to improved living standards and state of the art medical treatment available to detainees, but the facility's international reputation remains tied to the "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding employed under the Bush administration. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

I have defended men and women on death row for nearly all of my thirty years as a lawyer, and have represented people caught up in the excesses of the “war on terror” since very shortly after that war was launched. For more than a decade, I have been counsel for Zayn al-Abedin Muhammad Hussein, known more widely as Abu Zubaydah. Abu Zubaydah was the first person immured in a “black site,” the clandestine prisons operated around the globe by the CIA from early 2002 to late 2006. He was the first prisoner to have his interrogation “enhanced,” and the only person subjected to all the DOJ-approved interrogation techniques, as well as a number that were never approved (including, for example, rectal rehydration).…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week, my colleagues and I did something defense attorneys rarely do: We asked the government to file charges against our client. And because it seems unlikely the case will ever make it to an American courtroom, we have asked that it be heard in the nation's flawed military commission system.

Abu Zubaydah, our client, was an early poster child for the Bush administration's torture regime. He was the first prisoner held in a secret "black site" and the first to be tortured using "enhanced interrogation" techniques. The infamous torture memo of August 2002 was written to clear away legal barriers that stood between him and CIA contractor interrogators.…  Seguir leyendo »

"I have here in my hand a list of ... names."

When Sen. Joseph McCarthy told the Ohio County Women's Republican Club of Wheeling, W.Va., on Feb. 9, 1950, that he held a list of 205 communists employed by the State Department, he ignited a firestorm and launched a career.

We now know there was no list. Even then, it was obvious McCarthy was not particularly punctilious about the numbers. In Wheeling it was 205; in Salt Lake City it was 57; on the Senate floor it was 81. Nor was he especially careful about the allegation. Maybe they weren't all "card-carrying" communists.…  Seguir leyendo »

The prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is again in the news. The two Americans released this month by Iran have reported that when they complained about conditions in their Tehran prison, the jailers would "immediately remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay." Such is the power of symbols.

Symbols are important, and we ignore them at our peril. But even in these hyperpartisan times, when symbols are baseball bats used by thugs in the public square to beat reason senseless, I like to pretend that the truth is worth pursuing. And one part of that truth is that conditions at Guantanamo are vastly superior to those at any maximum-security prison on the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »