An interview with Steven T. Wax author of Kafka Comes to America: Fighting for Justice in the War on Terror: A Public Defender's Inside Account.
Weekly Signals (KUCI: University of California-Irvine)
Hosts: Mike Kaspar and Nathan Callahan
"Our government can make you disappear." Those were words Steven T. Wax never imagined he would hear himself say. In his thirty-four years as a lawyer, Wax didn't have 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. So how had we 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 Bush administration, not only have the civil rights of foreigners been in jeopardy, but also those of U.S. citizens. Wax interweaves the stories of two men he represented who were caught up in our government's post-9/11 counterterrorism measures. Brandon Mayfield, an American-born, small-town lawyer and family man, was arrested as a terrorist suspect in the Madrid train station bombings after a fingerprint was mistakenly traced back to him by the FBI. Adel Hamad, a Sudanese hospital administrator working in Pakistan, was taken from his apartment and flown in chains to the United States military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for no substantiated reason. Kafka Comes to America reveals where and how our civil liberties have been eroded in favor of a false security, and how each of us can make a difference. If these events could happen to Brandon Mayfield and Adel Hamad, they could happen to anyone. They could happen to you.
Wax is in his seventh 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. "Son of Sam." Wax and his team are representing seven men held as "enemy combatants" in Guantánamo. He has taught at the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College, serves as an ethics prosecutor for the Oregon State Bar, and lectures throughout the country.
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