Terror Law Truths: The Denbeauxs Deserve a Medal

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The American people owe a new wave of gratitude these days--and maybe a medal or prize-- to the Denbeaux family, Mark and Joshua, father and son, professor and lawyer, who have consistently made historic contributions to our understanding of the Bush administration's approach to terror law in the wake of 9/11. Their dogged pursuit of hidden truths has illuminated for us vital, objective facts about how the legal war on terror detainees has really been waged.

Four years ago, the team's research of the US military's own detainee records destroyed the myth that Guantanamo held the "worst of the worst." Now, the duo is back, providing the impetus for Scott Horton's pointed and powerful report in Harper's Magazine last month about an alleged military coverup at Gitmo involving the reported "suicides" of three detainees.   

Horton's new piece cuts directly against the renewed push by Republican lawmakers to keep the detainee prison at Gitmo open until terror suspects like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are prosecuted there under tribunal rules. It directly subverts the argument that Gitmo guards and officials are as accountable as their civilian counterparts. It directly supports the Obama administration's declaration that Gitmo must be closed to end the nasty symbolism it represents to so many around the world.

In the world of law and academia, Mark and Josh Denbeaux have been roundly cited for their work. It's time the American people and their Congressional representatives tuned in, too. These are earnest, honest people whom history will favor for their brave work in untangling the many govenrment deceptions that have been thrown at the public since the Twin Towers fell.

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Andrew Cohen is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is a legal analyst for 60 Minutes and CBS Radio News, and a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice.

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