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Margulies, Joseph

Margulies, Joseph

PERSONAL: Married. Education: Cornell University, B.A. (with distinction), 1982; Northwestern University, J.D. (cum laude), 1988.

ADDRESSES: Home—Chicago, IL. Office—Northwestern University School of Law, 357 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Office of the Honorable William Hart, Northern District of Illinois, clerkship; Texas Capital Resource Center, attorney for men and women on Death Row in Texas; attorney in private practice in Minneapolis, MN, beginning 1994; Cornell University Law School, Ithaca, NY, Distinguished Practitioner in Residence, 2002; University of Chicago Law School, 2004-06; Northwestern University Law School, clinical associate professor of law, assistant director of MacArthur Justice Center. Witness at Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on detainee issues, 2005. Lecturer on civil liberties.


Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power (nonfiction), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS: Joseph Margulies is an attorney and civil rights activist whose book Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power analyzes the treatment of the prisoners held at the American prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Prisoners at Guantanamo were captured during American military actions in the Middle East. They were incarcerated indefinitely and many were held only on suspicion, never charged with any crime. Allegations of torture were made by some of the prisoners. Margulies served as the lead counsel in the Supreme Court case Rasul v. Bush, a case brought on behalf of Guantanamo inmates from Australia and Great Britain, and consolidated with another similar case involving prisoners from Kuwait. The prisoners in both cases alleged they were held without reason. The case resulted in the decision that courts in the United States may hear suits from foreign citizens contesting the legality of their imprisonment.

Despite his personal involvement in the case, Margulies’s book on Guantanamo has drawn praise as being fairly balanced. “Surprisingly, the book is not a polemic but presents both sides,” remarked Brian J. Foley in the National Law Journal.“It’s masterfully written, reasoned and sourced—an enlightening explanation of how our government reached this failed policy.”

Margulies states his view that human-rights violations have occurred at Guantanamo, and that they have seriously marred the reputation of the United States among other countries of the world. He speculates that the deeply flawed policies at Guantanamo came about because the members of the Bush administration believed that everyone held at Guantanamo was a trained guerilla fighter, conditioned to resist interrogation. Because of this, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others felt that extreme tactics of disorientation and humiliation were required to instill feelings of helplessness and fear, in order to extract information from the inmates. Margulies believes that the civil-rights violations at Guantanamo have been allowed—even approved—because of the administration’s absolute conviction that it’s perceptions are correct.

In addition to giving an overarching view of the entire situation Margulies recalls the key court case, Rasul v. Bush, “in fascinating detail,” according to Karl Helicher in Library Journal.“In addition, he includes gruesome examples of beatings and techniques of emotional abuse approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.” The importance of this book was emphasized in the New York Times by Adam Liptak, who wrote: “Mr. Margulies is a resourceful advocate, a serious and sober legal analyst and a fine, sometimes luminous writer. In his new book Mr. Margulies weaves together a history of wartime interrogation, a consideration of the legal standards that apply to it and an assessment of the toll that Guantanamo has taken on the men and boys held there, and on the nation’s reputation and values.”



Booklist, August 1, 2006, Brendan Driscoll, review of Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power, p. 18.

Economist, July 1, 2006, review of Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power, p. 75.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2006, review of Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power, p. 508.

Legal Times, June 26, 2006, Vanessa Blum, review of Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power.

Library Journal, June 1, 2006, Karl Helicher, review of Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power, p. 138.

National Law Journal, June 25, 2006, Brian J. Foley, review of Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power.

New York Times, July 13, 2006, Adam Liptak, review of Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power, p. E1.

New York Times Book Review, July 30, 2006, Jonathan Mahler, review of Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power, p. 6.

Publishers Weekly, May 15, 2006, review of Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power, p. 62.

Recorder, September 22, 2006, Vanessa Blum, review of Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power.

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