This is a question that my fellow military commissions defense attorneys and I are often asked. When friends and family members wonder about the work I do representing a detainee held at Guantanamo Bay, I usually offer something quippy about defending "constitutional values" or "the rule of law," and quickly move on.
After all, talking about our clients, who have been tortured and imprisoned for years, isn't standard fare for casual family gatherings, nor is advocating for a nuanced view of their legal predicaments.
But it's important for Americans to understand the facts of what happened to the 40 men still held at Guantanamo Bay, a prison that has been open since 2002. As President John Adams once said, "facts are stubborn things," and the trials to determine those facts must be carried out justly, regardless of our passions. Defending those men in their trials, and discussing our work openly, is a responsibility we embrace, and there is no better place to start that discussion than with torture.