A Triumph of Ill Conceived Language: The Linguistic Origins of Guantamo’s “Rough Justice”

Brian Christopher Jones

Volume 64

Throughout the years, the Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay has witnessed an abundance of intriguing linguistic words and phrases. For example, “Freedom Vanilla” replaced French Vanilla ice cream in the mess hall, andthe area where journalists and others were often sequestered during their visits to the base was re-named “Camp Justice.”3 The list goes on. However, the language that has had the most significant impact throughout the years has been the words and phrases used in the administration of justice regarding the detainees being held on terrorism charges.Wall St. Journal Supreme Court reporter Jess Bravin’s book, The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay, thoroughly chronicles how the use of military commissions came about for the first time since the Second World War, and pointedly demonstrates the abundance of problems they faced once established. In addition to telling the story of Marine Corps lieutenant colonel Stuart Couch, an earnest military prosecutor who later becomes exhaustively disenchanted with the commissions, the book chronicles the new linguistic frontiers in the American legal community. In particular, the disturbing treatment of detainees and the hasty establishment of the commissions significantly troubled the process, leading to numerous problems that the commissions still face today, more than a decade after their establishment.

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The Long-Awaited Nationwide Mortgage Settlement: Only a Small Step Forward in the Struggle for Accountability in the Financial Crisis

Julia Mas-Guindal

Volume 64

After sixteen months of negotiation, state attorneys general and the federal government have reached agreement on a record joint state-federal settlement with the country’s five largest lenders—Ally Financial (formerly GMAC), Bank of America, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo—over improper foreclosure practices. The nationwide accord seeks to address banks’ misconduct that took place after the burst of the housing bubble. Some of the largest lenders in the country that process foreclosures issued improper mortgages, violated homeowners’ rights and protections, and used false affidavits. Bank employees did not properly verify documents; they signed papers they had not read or forged signatures to expedite foreclosing on homeowners, also known as “robo-signing” documents. Announced in February, the deal consists of $25 billion in relief to distressed borrowers as well as direct payments to states and the federal government. While this is the largest multistate settlement since the Tobacco Settlement in 1998 and the largest consumer financial protection arrangement in U.S. history, one question remains: is this settlement a comprehensive solution to the current foreclosure crisis?

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