Kafka Comes to America

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Overview

American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award — Winner in the Book category
Independent Publishers — Winner of the Gold Medal in the Autobiography/Memoir category       
ForeWord Book of the Year Awards — Winner of the Bronze Medal in the Social Science category
The Eric Hoffer Award - Winner in the Memoir category

A public defender’s dedicated ...

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Kafka Comes to America: Fighting for Justice in the War on Terror

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Overview

American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award — Winner in the Book category
Independent Publishers — Winner of the Gold Medal in the Autobiography/Memoir category       
ForeWord Book of the Year Awards — Winner of the Bronze Medal in the Social Science category
The Eric Hoffer Award - Winner in the Memoir category

A public defender’s dedicated struggle to rescue two innocent men from the recent Kafkaesque practices of our vandalized justice system

“Our government can make you disappear.” Those were the words Steven Wax never imagined he would hear himself say. In his twenty-nine years as a public defender, Wax had never had to warn a client that he or she might be taken away to a military brig, or worse, a “black site,” one of our country’s dreaded secret prisons. How had our country come to this?� The disappearance of people happens in places ruled by tyrants, military juntas, fascist strongmen—governments with such contempt for the rule of law that they strip their citizens of all rights. But in America?

Under the current Bush administration, not only are the civil rights of foreigners in jeopardy, but those of U.S. citizens. Wax interweaves the stories of two men that he and his team represented: Brandon Mayfield, an American-born small town lawyer and family man, arrested as a suspected terrorist in the Madrid train station bombings after a fingerprint was incorrectly traced back to him by the FBI; and Adel Hamad, a Sudanese hospital administrator taken from his apartment to a Pakistani prison and then flown in chains to the United States military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Kafka Comes to America reveals where and how our civil liberties have been eroded for a false security, and how each of us can make a difference. If these events could happen to Brandon Mayfield and Adel Hamad, they can happen to anyone. It could happen to us. It could happen to you.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The Seattle Times
"This is an ingenious book...a compelling story of two men wrongly imprisoned, and a legal system that makes it no easy thing to help them."

The Midwest Book Review
"A grand and important must read for anyone questioning the protection of our civil liberties."

Publishers Weekly
Starred review

“Federal public defender Wax masterfully delivers a harrowing story of the erosion of civil liberties after the September 11 terrorist attacks in a powerful testimony that reads like a thriller. . Wax offers personal insight and professional outrage; his is a powerful voice that deserves to reach all Americans.”

Clive Stafford Smith
Founder and Legal Director of Reprieve (UK); author of Eight O'Clock Ferry to the Windward Side

“Steven Wax’s office has done some of the best work of any lawyers when it comes to exposing the truth about prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. It is important for the international community to take notice of this eloquently told account.”

Kris Olson
U.S. Attorney for Oregon (1994-2001) and author of Standing Tall

“Steven Wax vividly portrays how chillingly close we have come to forsaking our foundational beliefs of justice and liberty. Precisely because he is devoted to deeply-held American values, this book has the power to promote effective activism against a government that has lost its way. Wax writes with authority, both moral and legal.”

Joseph Margulies
author of Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power

“Some day, the United States will leave its post-9/11 cave. But principles wither with prolonged disuse, and if we emerge with ours intact, it will be in some measure because of courageous lawyers like Steve Wax.”

Phillip Margolin
author of Executive Privilege
“Wax’s true story is heart-wrenching and as scary as any fictional thriller. This is a must read for anyone who cares about maintaining the freedoms that make this country great.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Those interested in an inside account of how attorneys represent unpopular clients will learn a great deal from the behind-the-scenes strategy sessions detailed here… offers important insights into what can happen when overzealous prosecutors believe that the ends justify any means”

Publishers Weekly

Federal public defender Wax masterfully delivers a harrowing story of the erosion of civil liberties after the September 11 terrorist attacks in a powerful testimony that reads like a thriller. Wax follows the stories of two men he represented, both victims of post-9/11 counterterrorism measures. The first-American citizen and fellow lawyer Brandon Mayfield-was arrested by the FBI as a suspect in the Madrid train station bombings in 2004, after the FBI claimed that a latent fingerprint found on the scene matched Mayfield's. The second story revolves around Adel Hamad, a Sudanese-born hospital administrator arrested in Pakistan while doing refugee relief work. Imprisoned for six months in "a fetid hell" for alleged connections with al-Qaeda, Hamad was hooded and shackled and transferred to Guantánamo Bay, where he has languished for the past four years. With considerable finesse, the author narrates these two gripping stories in alternating chapters through each stage of his clients' cases. Wax offers personal insight and professional outrage; his is a powerful voice that deserves to reach all Americans. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Oregon Federal Public Defender Wax describes the obstacles faced by lawyers representing people accused of terrorist activities. Those interested in an inside account of how attorneys represent unpopular clients will learn a great deal from the behind-the-scenes strategy sessions detailed here. Both of Wax's clients, Oregon lawyer and Islam convert Brandon Mayfield and Sudanese hospital administrator Adele Hassan Amad, were eventually released and the charges against them dropped, but not before they had their privacy violated. Mayfield, who had defended someone convicted of terrorist activities, was arrested as a suspect in the 2004 Madrid bombings because the FBI misidentified his fingerprints. Amad, accused of associating with terrorists, was imprisoned at Guantanamo, where he was frequently interrogated and beaten, although the U.S. government declined to reveal why he was a suspect. Descriptions of the judicial wrangling and the impact of the procedures on the defendants' families are dramatic and far from subtle. Wax, a former prosecutor who worked on the "Son of Sam" case, delivers a screed against the policies of the Bush administration: "For five years now, the administration has acted as though U.S. law and the Constitution do not reach Guantanamo and has done everything in its power to obstruct Adele and other prisoners from having as day in court or contact with the outside world." While acknowledging that after 9/11 the government was right to beef up prosecution of terror suspects, the author contends it could be accomplished in a more prudent, nuanced manner. One-sided and too long, but offers important insights into what can happen when overzealous prosecutors believe thatthe ends justify any means. Agent: Al Zuckerman/Writers House
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590512951
  • Publisher: Other Press, LLC
  • Publication date: 6/3/2008
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Wax

Steven Wax is in his sixth term as the Federal Public Defender for the District of Oregon. A cum laude graduate of Colgate University and Harvard Law School, he was a key part of the Brooklyn, N.Y. District Attorney's prosecution of David Berkowitz, a.k.a."The Son of Sam." Wax and his team are currently representing seven men held as "enemy combatants"; in Guantanamo. He has taught at the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College, serves as an ethics prosecutor for the Oregon State Bar, and lectures throughout the country.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Prologue……………………………………………………………………...3
Chapter One: Footprints in the Carpet………………………………………6
Chapter Two: “Portland Lawyer Arrested!”………………………………...13
Chapter Three: A Cry for Help from Guantanamo………………………….29
Chapter Four: Innocence is Irrelevant……………………………………...48
Chapter Five: Seized and Disappeared……………………………………..58
Chapter Six: From September 11 to Guantanamo Bay……………………..76
Chapter Seven: The Matching of Latent Print # 17………...........................96
Chapter Eight: A Lonely Battle…………………………………………….105
Chapter Nine: Feeding Refugees and Teaching Orphans…………………..126
Chapter Ten: The Unconscionable Detention of Adel Hamad…………..…146
Chapter Eleven: the Seeds of Mercy……………………………………….158
Chapter Twelve: A Life Exposed………………………………..................171
Chapter Thirteen: The Ice Man………………………………….................180
Chapter Fourteen: Something to Hide……………………………………...193
Chapter Fifteen: The Cavalry is Coming…………………………………...206
Chapter Sixteen: The DTA and the Second Rebuke………………………..223
Chapter Seventeen: Homeland Security……………………………………242
Chapter Eighteen: Proffer and Immunity…………………………………..251
Chapter Nineteen: Catch 22…..…………………………………………….265
Chapter Twenty: The Road to Kabul.....................................................278
Chapter Twenty One: Defenders in the War Zones…………..……………294
Chapter Twenty Two: Spanish Truths/American Lies……………………..306
Chapter Twenty Three: Mayfield: The Aftermath…………………………323
Chapter Twenty Four: The MCA and the Third Stall……………………...345
Chapter Twenty Five: The Dark Winter…………………………………...359
Chapter Twenty Six: Tea with the Ministers in Sudan ………………........374
Chapter Twenty Seven: The Final Round for Adel………………………..392
Chapter Twenty Eight: The Fight for Freedom is Never Won…………….410
Postscript………..…………………………………………………………417
Acknowledgements………………………………………………………..421
Notes………………………………………………………………….423

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 2, 2009

    KAFKA COMES TO AMERICA by Steven T. Wax

    This is an eye-opening revelation of what is really happening in Guantanamo. The author is a USA Federal lawyer who has defended some of the prisoners there. I have heard Mr. Wax speak and he is shocked and saddened to think that these kinds of personal and human abuses have taken place in our America. It is well written and documented.

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