This is not a nail biting trial saga because there never was a trial. Instead, this is more of a story of a struggle against bureaucracy and blinders to get Mayfield released. Although the FBI ultimately admitted it made a mistake and that the print was not Mayfield's, his client files and computers were seized and much of the information the FBI gathered was disseminated to law enforcement and intelligence agencies throughout the government. The government eventually reached a $2 million settlement with Mayfield but his case serves as a glaring example of what can happen in a rush to conclusions conducted in an atmosphere of fear and politics.
Hamad's story likewise is not an cliffhanger tale from the Perry Mason school. In fact, Wax had only one court hearing and only met one of his two adversaries from the Department of Justice — once — in more than two years on the case. Instead, this is a story of the strategy of delay and roadblocks the Bush Administration employed to prevent those detained at Guantanamo and other military facilities from even getting hearings. This struggle led to three different U.S. Supreme Court cases and years of delay for the detainees. Even when the detainees were appointed attorneys to assist them with habeas corpus petitions, things were not easy.
The Department of Justice wouldn't even tell Wax what country Hamad was from for three months. He, his staff and the other habeas attorneys were subject to protective orders that seriously constrained them.
The Protective Order prevented me from writing directly to Adel or receiving mail directly from him. Instead, all correspondence went through a Privilege Team from the Department of Justice. When I visited Adel, I could not take my notes out of the prison; instead, I had to give them to my military escorts. If I wanted to get the notes for use in my office, I had to let the Privilege Team read them, a process that can take anywhere from one to four weeks. Anything they thought should be classified was censored and locked in the secure facility outside Washington. And everything Adel told me, including such things as the name of his wife and his brother-in-law's phone number, ... was presumptively classified.
Thus, where Mayfield at least had the right to counsel, the benefit of full attorney-client privilege and hearings before a judge, Hamad did not. Just as he was blindfolded and chained en route to Guantanamo, he and his lawyers were figuratively in the same situation in the political and procedural battles being waged in Congress and the courts. The discussion and analysis of the lawyering here, though, is far closer to the real practice of law than what appears on television or movie screens. It is the formation of legal strategies to serve a client in the best way possible and the grunt work of investigating facts, gathering evidence, and interviewing witnesses.