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, 60 Minutes' first-ever legal analyst, and a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice. He is also chief analyst for CBS Radio News and has won a Murrow Award as one of the nation's leading legal journalists. More

Cohen is the winner of the American Bar Association’s 2012 Silver Gavel Award for his Atlantic commentary about the death penalty in America and the winner of the Humane Society’s 2012 Genesis Award for his coverage of the plight of America’s wild horses. A racehorse owner and breeder, Cohen also is a two-time winner of both the John Hervey and O’Brien Awards for distinguished commentary about horse racing.

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