Author: Robert H. Wagstaff

ISBN: 978: 978-0199301553

 Publisher: Oxford University Press.     


Terror Detentions and the Rule of Law: UK and US asks and answers many vital questions: Should Guantanamo Bay Detention Center be closed? What are the ramifications to our national security if these prisoners are released? Under what conditions are they being detained? Are they being treated humanely? Where would they be released and will their third world countries be able to provide a prison setting that would house them without any danger to any other country including their own? So, why do so many feel that this prison and the one in England, Belmarsh Prison should be closed for not adhering to what is called The Rule Of Law. Rule of law requires that a government exercise its authority under the law. Rule of law comprises one full chapter, which explains it in detail. 

Guantanamo Bay Naval Base came under scrutiny when disturbing images came to light on television. Front pages of newspapers, news programs showed images of men shackled, wearing sensory depravation devices, tortured, locked in cages surrounded by barbed wire.  More than 650 persons from over 40 countries were detained. The author states that these prisoners were considered participants and supporters of al-Qaeda and responsible for September 11th. Airing his viewpoint at the time Vice President Dick Chaney stated that these prisoners were “ the worst of a very bad lot.” The first chapter explains why Guantanamo was chosen, how Blair responded:  We will give them a fair trial then hang them! .  Former British Primer Minister Tony Blair stood by and supported Bush’s leadership during difficult times and commended his determination and courage. 

Both the US and UK detained many people and it’s the legality of these detentions that is being challenge within the highest courts in both countries. As the author elaborates the in the US the courts approached whether detainees were denied a fair trial, due process and equality requirements as part of the Rule of Law, the US approached these questions as “Matters within the law of war.” The UK scrutinized them within a human rights criminal law context.” Within this informative book, well researched and documented the author presents arguments on both sides. Did both Bush and Blair fail to protect the human rights of those they thought to be terrorists? He presents a detailed chapter on Rule of Law, and UK and US court decisions related to retentions. He also explains why the true criminal law approach is the one that should be followed vs. the war paradigm. 

Blair talks about the Belmash I and states  it was the wrong choice for society. Both the US and UK “ faced erosion of free speech and the right to protest, surveillance, detention without trial, extradition and the issue if not the reality of torture.” The most unbelievable and compelling issues are presented in Chapter 7 titled Guantanamo and Belmarsh where the author relates how Guantanamo was chosen by the Bush government as what came to be known at the legal black hole where neither domestic nor international law applies. Even more compelling is the fact that Bush states that the US federal courts have no jurisdiction over the US Naval base there for international treaties that disallowed or forbid torture did not apply. Within pages 172- 174 we learn more as the author continues with several court cases that define much of what went on during this administration: Rasul vs Bush, Hamdi v Rumsfeld and Boumediene. Rasul: resulted in stating that a federal habeas corpus statue was applicable to Guantanamo and Hamadi established that a “US citizen detained as an unlawful combatant is constitutionally entitled to habeas corpus and must be given a meaningful opportunity to challenge any evidence against him. In the final case, Boumediene the courts rules that alien detainees in Guantanamo have a right under the US constitution to habeas corpus and that detention there without it and due process is unconstitutional. Within Chapter 8 the author discusses in detail the War paradigm vs. Criminal Law in the United States and United Kingdom.  

The most frightening information was stated on page 299 where the author describes the Drone Strike Police and the Rule of Law. Knowing that the present administration is creating or nearly created a manual that is designed to establish clear rules for targeted-killing operations is scary. Referring to it as a playbook like that of one in football that houses the various plays of a team, this book is a formal guide to targeting killing marks. 

Many voices are heard within this book that answer these questions and many hurdles have yet to be overcome. Should they close the base: for many that agree they would state that the human rights of detainees is being violated. It is a symbol of Muslim discrimination that some consider might fuel terrorist sentiment and some fell that it makes us look bad in the eyes of other countries and hurts are relationships with foreign countries and the UN. On the opposite side some state more information is needed, security issues, release is not the answer and some say that GB undemocratically burdens our citizens in terms of both liberties and finances. But, there are three areas that intersect or clash: safety of US, impact on US regarding international communities and human rights: is torture justified. Within the pages of this outstanding resource and book you will have to find your own answers.

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