October 18, 2021

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Don’t Pursue War, Pursue War Crimes: Michael Ratner’s Decades-Long Battle to Close Guantánamo

2 min read

We look at the life and legacy of the late Michael Ratner, the trailblazing human rights lawyer and former president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, with three people who knew him well: Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights; Vince Warren, the organization’s executive director; and ​​Lizzy Ratner, Ratner’s niece and a senior editor at The Nation magazine. Michael Ratner spent decades opposing government abuse and fought to close the U.S. base at Guantánamo Bay, first in the 1990s when it was used to hold thousands of Haitian asylum seekers and later when the George W. Bush administration opened a military prison there to detain hundreds of people from the so-called war on terror. Ratner died in 2016 at age 72. His posthumous memoir, "Moving the Bar: My Life as a Radical Lawyer," has just been published. "Michael opposed war with every fiber of his being in every medium he had access to: the courtroom, the classroom, in the media," says Azmy. "And he knew that legal challenges to protect humans from authoritarian abuses and violence and torture were necessary."

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