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Jameel Jaffer is one of the most important voices for human rights in the United States, especially when it comes to foreign detainees.
Jaffer grew up in Kingston, Ontario, got his masters from Cambridge, a law degree from Harvard, and then clerked for a year at the Supreme Court of Canada. From there, he got a gig as a corporate lawyer in New York, right around the time of the 9/11 attacks.
Jaffer ended up doing some pro bono work at a detention centre in New Jersey and met a young Afghan, who'd overstayed his visa, and was locked up as a terror suspect, with no rights. For Jaffer, it was a life changing moment. He quit his job on Wall Street and took a pay cut, to join the American Civil Liberties Union, and with a few other lawyers, he starting digging into the war on terror and how America dealt with detainees.
They filed Freedom of Information requests, went to court to get top secret documents, and after six years, Jaffer and his colleagues had uncovered 130,000 pages of classified evidence, detailing widespread torture and abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Plus, the documents showed that senior U.S officials essentially "signed off" on torture, by tolerating it, encouraging it, or authorizing it.
Jaffer even co-wrote a book about it all, called 'Administration of Torture.'
At present, Jaffer is in court asking that the CIA be held in contempt for their alleged willful destruction of two videotapes depicting prisoner torture. The legal battle goes on.