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The Last Front in the War in Court: Inside the 9/11 Case at Guantanamo with Lisa Hajjar

The War in Court

This is a hybrid event. Attendees may watch remotely via Zoom, or attend in-person at the Elliott School of International Affairs, 1957 E St NW, Room 505, Washington, D.C. 20052.


The War in Court Inside the Long Fight against Torture (University of California Press, 2022)

Lisa Hajjar will discuss her new book, The War in Court: Inside the Long Fight against Torture, with a particular focus on the legal battles over the treatment of people detained at Guantanamo. Those who took up the fight against the government over torture, forced disappearance, protracted incommunicado detention, and invented law-of-war offences for use in the military commissions were lawyers. Hajjar will explain why hundreds of legal professionals—JAGs and attorneys from the toniest corporate law firms, human rights lawyers and solo practitioners, law professors and their students—were galvanized to defend the rule of law that was upended by the torture policy and enlisted in what turned into a war in court. The last front is the 9/11 case; the five defendants were disappeared and tortured by the CIA for years before being transferred to Guantanamo in 2006. That case, which started in 2008 and remains ongoing, is proof that torture and justice are utterly incompatible and Guantanamo’s legacy is failure.


  • Lisa Hajjar has an international reputation for her work on sociology of law and conflict, human rights, political violence, and contemporary international affairs. She is an interdisciplinary scholar who contributes to multiple fields in the social sciences and humanities, including Middle East Studies, American Studies, and Law and Society. Her current research focuses primarily on the US “war on terror,” particularly around the issues of torture, targeted killing, and Guantanamo. She is the only social scientist who has traveled to Guantanamo (14 times to date), where she conducts research and writes about the military commissions. Another area of current research focuses on human rights in the Arab world. Her journalistic writings have been published by The Nation, Al Jazeera English, Middle East Report, and Jadaliyya.

  • James Connell has served as Death Penalty Counsel for Ammar al Baluchi in the United Stats Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay since 2011. Before that position, Mr. Connell defended death penalty and other criminal cases in Virginia, Texas, and the District of Columbia. Among other cases, he worked as habeas counsel for "D.C. Sniper" John Allen Muhammad.

  • Alka Pradhan is Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania. She is an expert on the application of human rights and humanitarian law to counterterrorism situations, and the impact of torture on fair trials. She is currently Human Rights Counsel at the Guantanamo Bay Military Commissions, representing one of the defendants in the capital case of United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (the “9/11 case”).