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Bad Men: Guantanamo Bay And The Secret Prisons [Hardcover]

Clive Stafford Smith
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
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Book Description

26 April 2007
Clive Stafford Smith is the 46-year-old human-rights lawyer who has famously - some would say notoriously - spent more than twenty years in the United States representing prisoners on Death Row. His clients include many detainees in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, and he established the London-based charity Reprieve, developed to defending human rights in 1999. His book is quite simply, devastating, and many will laugh and cry reading it: laugh in disbelief, and cry in despair at the utter inhumanity and lack of imagination wrapped up in hypocrisy so enormous that it beggers understanding. Yet even in the face of insurmountable odds, Clive Stafford Smith remains an optimist. Few could maintain his capacity for work and his commitment to his clients if he allowed frustration or despair to divert him. His experiences, graphically recounted in this book, have enabled him to shine a bright, unblinking light into the darkest corners of illegality that are being justified by governments in the name of the War on Terror.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (26 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297852213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297852216
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 479,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A measured and uniquely informed account of systemic brutality and blind folly on an epic scale, of the tragic perversion of America's judicial system, and of the licensing of torture throughout the world by those who imagine themselves opposed to it. (John le Carré)

lifts the lid on the hypocrisy and routine abuse of human rights... at the heart of the War on Terror. (LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS)

a succinct argument on how the US and UK are continually messing up foreign policy... (THE LIST)

Clive Stafford Smith¿ breaks his silence to deliver an indictment of the detention centre, which is all the more devastating for being expressed in such temperate terms¿ this book serves as a warning of how a nation with liberty at the heart of its written constitution is helpless to prevent a determined administration from overriding them. (DAILY MAIL)

a laconic and sardonic first-person account, acutely observed and at times blackly humorous, of what Guantanamo Bay is actually like. (Geoffrey Robertson QC NEW STATESMAN)

Stafford Smith's facts and figures are undeniable... BAD MEN glints with absurdity... And it brims with drama and horror. (THE INDEPENDENT)

humane and entertaining¿ a quintessentially British account mixing wry humour with irony and understatement (THE GUARDIAN)

Stafford Smith writes well and with humour, though the story he tells is shocking. (TLS)

a remarkable and passionate book... Stafford Smith achieves something unprecedented. He lets the facts speak , and the result is riveting. (LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS)

The best analysis so far of the erosion of civil liberties in America and Britain and the consequences for individuals and society (THE ECONOMIST)

Book Description

Explosively personal account by a British lawyer who defends Death Row prisoners and Guantanamo Bay detainees.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who are the worl'd most evil people? 9 May 2009
Until I read Clive Stafford Smith's book about Guantanamo, I was of the opinion that Henry Kissinger was the world's most wicked man, mainly because of his part in the overthrow of the Allende government in Chile, but also for his totally amoral attitude towards the benefit to his country of its actions, right or wrong.
This book has convinced me that Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the senior mambers of the George W Bush administration (not Dubbya himself - he's too stupid to carry blame, only scorn) have taken over that accolade.
Mr Stafford Smith's book makes grim, but utterly compelling, reading. He has been lawyer to several of the Guantanamo prisoners and he highlights both the cruelty and utter incompetence of the facility and of those who controlled it in the Bush years. The disgraceful subterfuge of 'rendering' (awful word) prisoners to allied countries prepared to use fearful torture, thus absolving the USA administration from actual involvement in this, is also highlighted.
It's a well-written book, filled with righteous indignation, which every reader without a personal agenda on the issue of terror should share on reading it.
Mr Stafford Smith is to be congratulated on his bravery in writing this important book.
Clearly, Barack Obama shares this view of Guantanamo (though he's too diplomatic to say so in as many words). His vow to close the prison seems to me his best act, among many good acts, of his first 100 days.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horrifying study of US torture of prisoners 12 July 2007
This excellent book by the lawyer Clive Stafford Smith is a chilling exposé of the revolting crimes committed by the US state at Guantanamo Bay. It was written under US military censorship rules, so he has been forced to conceal worse horrors than he reveals. Since January 2002, 759 people have been imprisoned there, including 64 children. After five years, fewer than half the prisoners have even met a lawyer, but most have met a torturer.

The US state uses the `ticking bomb' rationale to try to justify torturing prisoners. But there has never been a single case where torture saved lives by yielding information that prevented the explosion of a ticking bomb.

The US state has also used this rationale to encourage, assist and exploit torture by its allies. Torture in Egypt led to the false confession of a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qa'ida, a claim used to try to try to get us to support attacking Iraq. Torture in Morocco led to the US state's allegation of a plot to explode a dirty bomb in New York. The people that US Attorney-General Ashcroft named as responsible were never charged with the plot because, as officials said, that "could open up charges from defence lawyers that their earlier statements were a result of torture." This was to admit that the charges were true.

Under the US military commission's procedures for trying just ten of Guantanamo Bay's prisoners, even if the defendant were acquitted, he could still be held forever because all prisoners are supposedly "enemy combatants that we captured on the battlefield" (administration lawyer); "these are people picked up off the battlefield in Afghanistan" (Bush).

But in the real world, 55% of the prisoners are not even alleged ever to have taken part in hostilities.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth about Gitmo 25 Oct 2007
A statue named Freedom stands on the summit of the dome of the Capitol building in Washington DC, where it is supposed to symbolise the highest ideal of the American nation. On the evidence of this book, it is an ideal horribly betrayed by the Bush Administration during the years of its War on Terror.

In April 2002 Binyam Mohamed was arrested in Pakistan. A British resident originally from Ethiopa, Binyam had the misfortune to have his passport stolen. He was arrested on his way home attempting to use a friend's passport and, a suspect in the War on Terror, was savagely tortured. American and British agents questioned him during this time. He was then "rendered" by American agents to Morocco where, for 18 months, he was subjected to violent beatings and a variety of horrendous tortures at the hands of a Moroccan torture team, while interrogations by Americans continued. The tortures included cutting with razors. During one two-hour session twenty or thirty cuts were made to his penis. Later, "even worse" things were done to him. He was forced to make false confessions. He was drugged with narcotics by intravenous drip and tortured with noise through headphones. He was finally sent to Guantánamo Bay where he is still imprisoned. He is innocent of all the imaginary offences and al-Qaeda liaisons of which he has been accused by the US. The Bush administration will still not allow him to go free.

Binyam Mohamed's story is only one of many. The US has incarcerated 773 men and boys in Guantánamo Bay. Around 385 are still there, suffering brutally harsh conditions. Some of them are held in long-term solitary confinement.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading 3 Jan 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Unless, that is, you already have 'The Eight O'Clock Ferry to the Windward Side'. This is basically the same book, with a different title and dust-jacket. There may be minor differences (I posted my copy of Bad Men to a friend a few days before this one arrived, so I haven't been able to compare them directly), but if so they're very minor. There are even some of the same minor typographical errors in this one.
As for the book's contents, it's about the kidnapping, illegal deportation, torture and imprisoment without trial of those unfortunate enough to have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Thankfully the author is a highly experienced human rights lawyer, not a 'Sun' headline writer; this book would be unreadable if there was any trace of hyperbole, as the facts disclosed are bad enough. Basically, most of the Guatanamo 'prisoners' were sold into captivity for large ransoms paid by the Americans. Most have been tortured, some severely, often by techniques used in the Spanish Inquisition, though much is witheld, partly due to censorship by the US military, partly because some of the victims understandably do not wish the full details of their ordeal to become common knowledge. Even those who have not been tortured have mostly been subjected to vicious beatings, in many cases causing severe and permanent injuries. None have had a trial, let alone a proper, fair and open trial. The amazing thing is that some people still defend the blatent war crimes revealed in this book. 'Kafkaesque' doesn't even begin to describe the awful reality that has befallen these men. Even Kafka's nightmares were nothing compared to this.
If you have any interest in truth, justice, or liberty you need to read this.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating Read
It really is something that you have to read to believe. Whether you're pro or anti Gitmo it's worth reading through some of the first hand accounts in this book. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Steven
5.0 out of 5 stars Lawless, bigotted thugs - and a few of the prisoners are a bit dodgy...
After reading this, the only reason I can think of as to why there isn't uproar around the Western world about Guantanamo et al is that most of the population are too busy shopping... Read more
Published 23 months ago by A. Wickham
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book.
A great book, written with ease - and its read with ease - though much of the content is shocking. Despite this, the author is remarkably objective. Everyone should read this book.
Published on 20 Aug 2010 by M. Richards
4.0 out of 5 stars very good read
I was a bit worried that this was going to be a really pro human rights book, but the storys of the detainees and what they have done to be locked up without trial is pretty... Read more
Published on 26 April 2010 by baz F
5.0 out of 5 stars Leaders of the free world???
Such a well written book on such an incredibly sobering topic. It makes me angry and ashamed the lengths the USA and UK will go to try and justify the existence of Guantanamo Bay... Read more
Published on 23 Aug 2008 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A lawyer who can actually write
A fascinating survey on Guantanamo Bay and its inmates by someone with first-hand knowledge.

Stafford Smith's high profile as a campaigner necessarily lends itself to a... Read more
Published on 4 April 2008 by G. L. Haggett
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