Even Corporate Lawyers Can't Stand the Sins of Guantanamo
Stories My Father Told Me
When America went to "the dark side" to fight terrorism, she became unrecognizable to the world. That's when my father took on the case of Guantánamo prisoner number 707 and became unrecognizable to me.
He is basically talking to himself. The words come out, the translator translates them into Arabic. But then they just seem to linger, reverberating off the cell walls and ceiling, unacknowledged. The room is just as the lawyer had imagined it would be. An eight-by-ten steel-and-concrete shed, with a separate holding cell and bunk to the right. He is sitting with his translator and the JAG lawyer detailed to the case at a small metal card table. All of this is just as he had pictured in his mind. It is the man shackled to the floor right in front of him he couldn't come to terms with. The briefing material estimates the man's age at about thirty-five. But he appears far older — the seven years he's spent locked out of sight have aged him severely. His slight black face is dull and cracked like an old road. His long black beard is streaked with gray, his fingernails yellow, his upper teeth missing. He's managed to flip his sandals off to one side and lean back in his chair. He is slouching, looking away.
The lawyer spent six months trying to get into this room. He'd written letter after letter to the prisoner. He'd come to Guantánamo twice before to see him, and on each visit he'd been turned away without explanation. But today, the day before the arraignment, the prisoner has agreed to see him. Yet he does not talk and keeps looking away.