H E B O O K
inspiring legal thriller set against the backdrop of the war
on terror, The Challenge tells the inside story of a historic
Supreme Court showdown. At its center are a Navy JAG and a young
constitutional law professor who in the aftermath of 9/11 find
themselves defending their nation in the unlikeliest of ways:
By suing the President of the United States on behalf of an accused
terrorist in order to prevent the American government from breaking
the law and violating the Constitution.
Mahler traces the journey of their client, Salim Hamdan, from
the Yemeni mosque where he was first recruited for jihad in 1998,
through his years working
as a driver for Osama bin Laden, to his capture in Afghanistan in November
2001 and his subsequent transfer to Guantanamo Bay. It was there
that Hamdan was designated
by President Bush to be tried before a special military tribunal and assigned
a military lawyer to represent him, a thirty-five-year-old graduate of the
Naval Academy, Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift.
one expected Swift to mount much of a defense. Not only were
the rules of the tribunals, America’s first in more than fifty years, stacked against
him, his superiors at the Pentagon were pressuring him to persuade Hamdan to
plead guilty. But Swift didn’t believe that the tribunals were either legal
or fair, so he enlisted Georgetown Law Professor Neal Katyal to help him sue
the Bush administration over their lawfulness. In the spring of 2006, Katyal,
who had almost no trial experience, took the case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld†, to the
Supreme Court and won. The landmark ruling has been called the Court’s
most important decision ever on presidential power and the rule of law.
with the extensive cooperation of Swift and Katyal, The Challenge follows the braided stories of Swift’s intense, precarious relationship with Hamdan,
and of the unprecedented legal case itself. Combining rich character portraits
and courtroom drama reminiscent of A Civil Action with sophisticated yet accessible
legal analysis, The Challenge is a riveting narrative that illuminates some of
the most pressing constitutional questions of the post-9/11 era.
v. Rumsfeld: For more information on the case, including legal
briefs and trial transcripts, go to hamdanvrumsfeld.com.
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