WASHINGTON - In the frantic aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, hundreds of men captured abroad were sent to the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where they were held without access to lawyers and denied all other rights, writes The Washington-based Bridge Initiative.
In time, the cases of three of the prisoners reached the Supreme Court and made history. Their challenges changed the legal landscape at Guantánamo and stripped the military and the White House of unchecked authority to detain people here.
We caught up with two of the men, one in a grey industrial town in central England where he grew up, the other a thousand miles away in the sun-splashed Riviera in France. The third is struggling in war-torn Yemen.
All three of the former prisoners were reunited with their families years ago and managed to build new lives despite the abuse they endured and the stigma of having been held at Guantánamo. “It’s hard,” said Lakhdar Boumediene, who lost more than seven years in U.S. detention, where he was found to be unlawfully held. “They took my time, my family.” Their stories still matter today.
About 780 men and boys were taken to Guantánamo, all by the George W. Bush administration, beginning 21 years ago, on 11 January 2002. Of them, 35 prisoners remain. Some still have court cases that challenge the legal limits of the war against terrorism and continue to shape its legacy.