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Our Nation Unhinged: The Human Consequences of the War on Terror
  • Peter J Honigsberg

This study breaks new ground by examining the evolution of national security, constitutional, humanitarian and human rights law from September 11, 2001 to November 4, 2008, Election Day. The book, in five parts, takes a sprawling subject and makes it coherent through stories of how America violated the rule of law and human rights of its detainees in America, Guantanamo and overseas. It focuses on the stories of individuals while examining the law, and is based on interviews, extensive analysis of government documents and the author's trip to Guantanamo. It includes a Foreword by Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California, School of Law, Irvine.

Part One describes how the Bush Administration manipulated the law as well as made up the law under the guise of executive power. It analyzes the generic term "enemy combatant" and how it was used to circumvent the Geneva Conventions, discusses the "torture memos" and studies the administration’s promotion of executive power.

Part Two looks at Detention in America: the inhumane treatment and torture of the men in the Naval Brig in Charleston, S.C. (Jose Padilla, Yaser Hamdi and Ali al Marri); the early days of preventive detention for immigrants and material witnesses; and the applicable federal and Supreme Court decisions.

Part Three looks at Detention in Guantanamo, covering: CSRT hearings, hunger strikes, suicides, cruel, inhumane, degrading treatment and torture of detainees, military tribunals, the right to habeas and, of course, the evolution of the federal and Supreme Court cases of Rasul, Hamdan and Boumediene.

Part Four looks at Detention Overseas, that is, extraordinary rendition, where suspected terrorists were flown to prisons controlled by foreign nations or the CIA ("black sites") to be tortured for intelligence information. This Part examines the cases of Khalid El Masri (a case of mistaken identity), Maher Arar and Abu Omar.

Part Five looks at Detention in America where the defendants ultimately received due process. The Part examines the cases of John Walker Lindh (who had been tortured for 54 days), Zacarias Moussaoui; Richard Reid and the Lackawanna Six.

In the Addendum, Professor Honigsberg writes about his trip to Guantanamo in 2007 and includes the bizarre story of his application process, as well as the visit.

  • Guantanamo,
  • detainees,
  • enemy combatants,
  • torture,
  • extraordinary rendition,
  • national security law,
  • constitutional law,
  • humanitarian law,
  • human rights law
Publication Date
University of California Press
Citation Information
Peter J Honigsberg. Our Nation Unhinged: The Human Consequences of the War on Terror. Berkeley(2009)
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