The Minutes of the Guantánamo Bay Bar Association

Clockwise around table from left, Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, Douglas Cox, Jennifer Ching, Baher Azmy, Marc Falkoff, Sarah Havens, Scott Sullivan, Robert Knowles, Neha Singh Gohil. Photo: Jeff Riedel

The Charter Terminal at the Fort Lauderdale airport is usually full of women in sundresses and men in Hawaiian shirts on their way to Caribbean vacation destinations, so it’s easy to pick out the soldiers, military contractors, and lawyers on their way to Guantánamo, the American naval base and prison on the east coast of Cuba, where the United States has locked 460 terror suspects.

On May 10, Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, a 35-year-old associate at the Manhattan office of Dorsey & Whitney, a corporate-law firm, sat in the terminal’s lounge, wondering what to expect when he got to the base. It was his seventh trip in the past year and a half. Two weeks before, he had received a handwritten suicide note from one of his clients, a 32-year-old joint Bahraini-Saudi national named Jumah Al Dossari. (It would be another few weeks before the successful suicides of early June, but attempts were already politically charged.) Colangelo-Bryan had watched the man’s hope slip away over the past few months. Now the military wouldn’t tell him anything about his client’s condition, or even if he was still alive.

Colangelo-Bryan is one of the attorneys in what has become known as the Guantánamo Bay Bar Association. In the summer of 2004, after the Supreme Court ruled that detainees could challenge their confinement in U.S. courts, a loose confederation of lawyers jump-started by the Center for Constitutional Rights, including many working pro bono from white-shoe Manhattan firms like Paul, Weiss, began preparing for a long struggle. For a certain kind of attorney, it was a Freedom Rider kind of thing.

Before taking a corporate job, Colangelo-Bryan worked for two years in Kosovo, first for an aid organization and later for the United Nations, prosecuting war-crimes and terrorism suspects. “I believe in the rule of law,” he says. “That’s what I was doing in Kosovo. If it’s proven through a fair hearing that you have violated the laws of war, then you should go to prison. But a state shouldn’t be able to lock someone up for the rest of his life without a fair hearing.”

Most of his Guantánamo Bay Bar Association colleagues began with similar motives. “We were going to meet what the world was told were a bunch of terrorists who might have been involved in the September 11 attacks,” says Mark Sullivan, a 48-year-old partner at Dorsey & Whitney who’d been with Colangelo-Bryan on his first trip down. “We had this abstraction—this intellectual abstraction—that what was being done at Guantánamo was legally and morally wrong, but we really didn’t know what to expect.”

The flight to Guantánamo takes three hours—the charter companies have to take a roundabout path to avoid Cuban airspace. The first time Colangelo-Bryan arrived there, in October 2004, he found himself in a different world—a weird mirror held up to the country he’d just left. Guantánamo is a craggy 45-square-mile strip of land on Cuba’s southeastern tip. There are townhouse subdivisions, a shopping mall, a golf course, batting cages, and a high school, as well as a McDonald’s, a Starbucks, a Pizza Hut, and a bar called the Windjammer that has karaoke on Wednesday nights. In the base’s stores, there are souvenir T-shirts that read TALIBAN TOWERS—GUANTÁNAMO’S FIRST FIVE STAR RESORT and JOINT TASK FORCE GTMO BEHAVIORAL MODIFICATION SPECIALIST. Baby outfits in pink and blue read FUTURE BEHAVIORAL MODIFICATION SPECIALIST.

On Colangelo-Bryan’s first trip, he was scheduled to meet Detainee No. 261. Camp guards escorted the lawyer and two colleagues past a couple of fifteen-foot-high gates into a surveillance booth. Inside, on a TV, was a grainy image of one of the cells. Detainee No. 261—it was Jumah Al Dossari—would be shackled to the floor, the guards explained, but they’d monitor the meeting onscreen just in case, for “everyone’s protection.”

Colangelo-Bryan had read everything he could find about his new client. At first glance, Detainee No. 261 seemed to have a classic terrorist’s CV. The government alleged that he’d been to Afghanistan in 1989 and had weapons training there. He’d traveled to Bosnia in 1995 and Azerbaijan in 1996, allegedly because he wanted to fight in Chechnya. He’d been detained by Saudi authorities following the bombing of the Khobar Towers. And the government claimed that he’d been “present at Tora Bora.”

Colangelo-Bryan also Googled Al Dossari and discovered news reports that he’d been in Lackawanna, New York, several months before 9/11, allegedly trying to recruit volunteers to attend training camps. Filling in the blanks on Al Dossari’s itinerary with speculation, anyone could make a case—what George Tenet might call a slam dunk—that Al Dossari was somehow involved with terrorists. Colangelo-Bryan, however, saw the government’s case as an act of imagination rather than one of legal fact. “I can see why someone might find it tempting to read into the allegations facts that aren’t there, but when the government compiles a document listing the reasons it can detain someone forever, the document has to be taken at face value,” Colangelo-Bryan says.

Colangelo-Bryan wondered if he would really be meeting one of the “most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth,” as Donald Rumsfeld had described the detainees. Instead, he found a slight man, shackled to the floor, who stood about five-foot-six and had a wispy beard.

Al Dossari’s story, pent-up since he’d been captured on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan three years earlier, poured out in a rush. He told Colangelo-Bryan that he’d gone to Afghanistan in 1989 but said it was a two-day Saudi government–sponsored trip. The Russians had just withdrawn, and everyone wanted to see it. He acknowledged that he had gone to Bosnia in 1995, but not to fight. The war was coming to an end, and he hoped to find a “blonde” wife. At the time, he weighed 260 pounds, a condition for which he’d since had his stomach stapled. “As best I understand, he had the Saudi Arabian version of the Al Roker surgery,” Colangelo-Bryan says, adding that it was hard to imagine Al Dossari as an obese man since at Guantánamo he’d withered to about 140 pounds.

Regarding his arrest in Saudi Arabia, Al Dossari said hundreds of suspects were questioned but that he was cleared and released. Al Dossari said he went to Afghanistan in 2001 to work for a Saudi humanitarian organization but had never been to Tora Bora. Al Dossari said that, indeed, he’d given a sermon in Lackawanna, but it had nothing to do with recruiting. He was living in Bloomington, Indiana, at the time, serving as an imam at the local mosque, and had been invited to New York. “Why would anyone go to an open community in the United States … and tell the people there to go fight against the United States?” he asked Colangelo-Bryan. “I am not that crazy—and I am not an enemy of the United States.” In fact, Al Dossari said he loved the U.S. He had recently divorced and had hoped to find a new wife and settle down there. He told Colangelo-Bryan that he was sickened by what happened on 9/11.

Al Dossari said that while he had been in U.S. custody, soldiers had urinated on him, put their cigarettes out on his skin, forced him to walk barefoot over barbed wire, shocked him with electrodes, wrapped him in an Israeli flag, and locked him in solitary confinement. While he was in Camp X-ray, he said, he was beaten unconscious by an Immediate Response Force, a five-man team of soldiers in riot gear who are summoned to subdue uncooperative prisoners. Al Dossari had finally been driven to such despair that he tried to commit suicide by slashing a vein in his arm, then scrawling I COMMITTED SUICIDE BECAUSE OF THE BRUTALITY OF MY OPPRESSORS on the wall with his blood before passing out.

I asked Colangelo-Bryan if he really believed that Al Dossari was as innocent as he made it sound. Was it coincidence that he was in Bosnia, where the mujaheddin committed terrible atrocities? Colangelo-Bryan thought for a moment. “No one can look into somebody’s eyes and know if he is good or bad,” he says. “That’s why you need evidence and a fair hearing before locking someone up forever. But if someone isn’t even accused of taking any action against the U.S., how can you call him an enemy combatant?”

As for Al Dossari’s story of abuse, Colangelo-Bryan says he initially had some questions. Al Dossari had a scar on his nose that he said was from the IRF beating, and he had other scars that looked like they could have been cigarette burns, but what did that really mean? “I’m fairly cynical by nature, so when Al Dossari said he was wrapped in an Israeli flag, I wondered for a moment if Middle Eastern politics had found their way into our discussion,” Colangelo-Bryan says.

He wondered too if it was possible for Al Dossari to cut himself, gush that much blood, and still manage to write a complete sentence on the wall with it before passing out. But while he questioned the details (the FBI later confirmed many of them), Josh says he was sure that Al Dossari was traumatized by whatever had happened to him at Gitmo. “Jumah was warm, made eye contact, and even cracked a few jokes, but when he spoke about the abuse, he pulled away from the table, covered his face with his hands, and talked for about an hour without looking up or stopping,” he says.

Al Dossari asked Josh if he wasJewish. He saidno—Joshua was a popularname where he grew up, on the Upper WestSide. Al Dossariwas disappointed. “I heard that the best lawyersare Jewish,” hesaid. “But I’m sure you’regood, too.”

The murkiness and complexity of the war on terror have been re-created and amplified at Guantánamo. Even suicide is rife with ambiguity. At Guantánamo, it’s the weapon of last resort, both a response to overwhelming despair and the only available political tactic. As such, it’s available to both the guilty and the innocent. When three detainees simultaneously committed suicide earlier this month, one obvious interpretation was to see it as a bid to generate American headlines, a publicity coup. One State Department official called the acts a “good PR move to draw attention” to the prisoners’ cause, and the commander called them an “act of asymmetric warfare.” But what Colangelo-Bryan and his colleagues were seeing in many of their clients was a kind of terminal hopelessness that had little to do with politics.

The majority of the detainees were captured as they were leaving Afghanistan in late 2001, and clearly not all of them were aid workers, peaceful Islamic evangelists, and travelers who happened to visit a terrorist haven just as the war was beginning.

When I toured Gitmo’s Camp V, reserved for the base’s most uncooperative detainees, I got a sense of who was there. As guards escorted a group of journalists through the automated prison doors, inmates began screaming in Arabic. “You are all traitors!” “You’re all shit!” “To hell with the Jews!” and “We are all fighters for a free Palestine!”

In May, the military said, dozens of detainees staged a riot, covering the floor with urine, feces, and spit, luring the guards inside by staging phony suicides, then attacking them with fan blades and broken lightbulbs.

But, although the Bush administration had claimed that the detainees had been “scooped up off a battlefield,” most of the lawyers’ clients were arrested by Pakistanis or Afghans and handed over to the Americans, often in return for bounties ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 a head. A recent study by the Seton Hall law school, based on the Department of Defense’s own data, determined that only 5 percent of the detainees were arrested by U.S. troops. The report included copies of flyers promising “wealth and power beyond your dreams” for turning in terror suspects.

Colangelo-Bryan parses the situation at Gitmo in a lawyerly way. “Although a majority of detainees are not even accused of any violent acts and we know that the biggest terror suspects in U.S. custody are held in secret sites, I think most of us recognize that there could be a relatively small number of very bad actors at Guantánamo,” he says. “But without even a vestige of due process, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?”

Which is exactly the government’s dilemma. The lawyers say the answer to that question is to give the detainees hearings in U.S. courts, where they would have the opportunity to rebut the allegations made against them. That, however, would require the government to provide convincing evidence about crimes that took place thousands of miles away in the chaos of Afghan battlefields, something it would probably not be able to do. It would then have no choice but to free the detainees, even if they are openly hostile to the United States. Instead, the Department of Defense created its own legal process at Gitmo—so-called Combatant Status Review Tribunals, or CSRTs—which are presided over by three military officers. They don’t entitle detainees to see all of the evidence against them, nor do they allow lawyers at the hearings—instead, detainees are given an American military officer as a “personal representative.” Evidence obtained through coercion is permissible, and the detainees are not permitted to challenge whatever decision the CSRTs make.

In one notorious case, a 22-year-old German-born Turk named Murat Kurnaz was deemed an enemy combatant on the grounds that one of his friends blew himself up in an Istanbul synagogue. Kurnaz’s lawyer, 36-year-old Baher Azmy, a professor at Seton Hall law school, subsequently discovered that the alleged suicide bomber was alive and well and living in Germany, but there was nothing he could do to challenge the CSRT’s determination.

When Colangelo-Bryan returned to Guantánamo five months later, he found Al Dossari in terrible shape. Interrogators had questioned him about his lawyers and claimed that they were liars. He was still being held in isolation—he’d had virtually no contact with other human beings. During the one hour per week he was allowed to exercise, Al Dossari said, he was alone in a caged area. Letters from his family arrived long after they were sent and were heavily censored. The only reading material he was allowed was the Koran.

Colangelo-Bryan, like many of the attorneys, increasingly saw his mission as one of maintaining his clients’ morale, and he and Al Dossari spent hours talking about whatever came into their heads. Al Dossari once asked Colangelo-Bryan if he was Jewish—Joshua seemed like a Jewish name, he said. Colangelo-Bryan explained that he wasn’t, but that Joshua was a popular name in his neighborhood (he grew up on the Upper West Side). Al Dossari seemed disappointed with the answer. “I heard that the best lawyers are Jewish,” he said. “But I’m sure you’re good, too.”

Al Dossari said that his English was improving at Gitmo and that he had learned a lot of dirty words. When Colangelo-Bryan asked him what they were, Al Dossari was reluctant to repeat them. But when Colangelo-Bryan persisted, Al Dossari recited the list: cracker, motherfucker, slut, whore, wetback, inbred, nigger, and honky. “When he finished, he said very sincerely, ‘Please don’t tell my mother that I cursed,’ ” Colangelo-Bryan recalls.

Once, Al Dossari mimicked one of his interrogators. “ ‘You can’t punk me, motherfucker, I’m from Brooklyn,’ ” he said. Colangelo-Bryan laughed and told him that he’d once lived in Brooklyn. But it was clear Al Dossari was suffering. “Josh,” he said at the end of one meeting, “what can I do to keep myself from going crazy here?”

Al Dossari had expressed an interest in reading some children’s books so that he could improve his English, so the firm sent a care package that included Jack and the Beanstalk, Puss in Boots, Beauty and the Beast, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, and Cinderella. It was returned with a yellow Post-it that read, “These items were not cleared for delivery to the detainee(s).”

The Department of Defense’s refusal to allow the books touched off a competition over who had the better lawyers. “When we would explain to our clients that we had tried to get them the books but that the government wouldn’t let us, they would say, ‘Well, the Kuwaitis’ lawyers got them books. Why can’t you?’ ” says Marc Falkoff, a 39-year-old former associate at Covington & Burling who is co-counsel to seventeen Yemeni detainees.

The Kuwaitis bragged that their lawyers had brought them DVDs of family members. Then one of Falkoff’s requests—for an Arabic lifestyle magazine—made it through. “Our clients celebrated that day, and everyone knew the lawyers for the Yemenis got the magazines into the camp. That was our big coup,” he says.

Inevitably, as the lawyers spent more time with their clients, the legal battle they signed up for became much more personal. They were meeting likable, often apolitical men who seemed baffled by their confinement. Several Yemenis told their attorneys that they were picked up in a sweep of their international dorm at a university in Pakistan and had never been to Afghanistan. One of them, Fahmi Abdullah Al Tawlaqi, who says his studies weren’t going well because he was smoking too much hashish, stands four-foot-eleven. Although he says he endured his share of abuse at Gitmo—once, soldiers shaved his head in the shape of a cross—he has also made an amazing discovery: rap music.

Al Tawlaqi adopted the rap name King Daniel, which he drew on his prison jumpsuit. He filled two notebooks with rap lyrics, in English, organized by subject. (The lawyers can’t say what the songs are about because Justice Department officials wouldn’t declassify the lyrics, though they assured me they are “very lewd,” with lots of references to erections.) Al Tawlaqi asked his lawyers if they could persuade Eminem to perform his songs.

Two other Allen & Overy lawyers—28-year-old Sarah Havens and 25-year-old Neha Singh Gohil—say they worried that their clients might not want to meet with female lawyers and took care to dress modestly and cover their heads. Though gender relations have proved difficult for some of the lawyers—Jennifer Ching and Julia Tarver Mason, lawyers from Paul, Weiss who are representing Saudi detainees, say they wouldn’t look some of their clients in the eye—they haven’t been much of an issue with the Yemenis. One of them recently asked Havens if she’d be interested in marrying him. “Sarah, don’t you know that we would be famous throughout the world? The American lawyer and her Guantánamo detainee!”

As 2005 wore on, with no movement in the courts, the lawyers grew increasingly frustrated. Slowly, they came to realize that they were of little help on the legal front, but that their presence brought some solace. “It’s really gotten to the point where if I can make them laugh for a half-hour, make them realize that not all Americans are bad, I feel I’ve done my job,” Havens says. She spent her junior year at Brown studying in Egypt and learned to speak Arabic “like an Egyptian taxi driver,” which her clients find hilarious.

Another Allen & Overy lawyer, 32-year-old Douglas Cox, recalls how one of their clients, Emad Abdullah Hassan, 26, regarded as a leader by other detainees, went on a hunger strike. A few months into it, military doctors started force-feeding him by inserting a tube through his nose. The process was so painful that Hassan felt he couldn’t take it anymore. He didn’t want to quit, though, because he thought he would be letting down the other detainees.

After a year, several detainees had been released, but most of them were from European countries with clout in Washington. The other detainees were growing increasingly frustrated. Colangelo-Bryan recalls one visit in which his client asked, “Can you get me a clock? I once had a clock in my cell and now I don’t. I’d like a clock. Can you get me one?” When Colangelo-Bryan said he couldn’t, his client asked, “Then what good is it to have a lawyer?”

Falkoff said that six of his Yemeni clients declined to meet with him. “We don’t believe any of them really want us to withdraw representation,” he rationalized. “It’s more that the process has become painful for them. One of my clients told me, ‘You brought hope and it was a mirage. I can’t take it anymore.’ ”

But the lawyers were having another kind of success. As they got more of their interview notes declassified—and as more and more corporate firms joined the Guantánamo Bay Bar Association—they started speaking to the press. Soon, stories began portraying Gitmo not as a detention center full of hardened terrorists but as a prison camp that was mostly full of low-level militants and men who were simply caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Each time a story appeared or the lawyers were interviewed on the radio or TV, their BlackBerrys filled up with hate mail. Falkoff received an e-mail from a Pennsylvania salesman who called himself the “master seller” asking, “How do you sleep at night defending a scumbag like that who wants both you and I to die a painful death? … Do you feel like a traitor? Just curious.” One of Colangelo-Bryan’s numerous hate mails read, “I wonder when you terrorist lawyers are going to realize that the rest of us in this country don’t really care how long those terrorists rot in Club Gitmo.”

Last July, Al Dossari gave Colangelo-Bryan a twenty-page diary he had written about his time in U.S. custody, detailing more abuse and humiliation than he had previously told his lawyer, including women playing with his genitalia, being watched as he urinated and defecated, and once having the hairs of his beard plucked out one by one. The diary, which has been translated, opened:

I wonder how my ailing heart could bear these memories. How did my body endure the pains of torturing? How did my soul survive all these pressures? I wish all this could be obliterated out of my memory and imagination. Yet, how could I forget all this when the marks continue to witness for the rest of my life the wounds, injuries, pain, and sadness inflicted on me? From the darkness of prison and from the depth of detention centers I inscribe my suffering … my pain … my sadness, an endless story, the suffering of years and months. From here, from behind horrific bars I write these lines of the life I spent and continue to spend in American detention camps.

On the last page, Al Dossari had written an addendum. It read in part:

I would like to note that not all American soldiers stationed here in Cuba tortured us and oppressed us. There were soldiers who treated us very humanely… . Some even apologized for the maltreatment and torture and expressed disapproval of the camp’s management and the American government’s unfairness and wrongdoing in treating us. For example, when I was in Camp Delta India Block while tortured, a black soldier came to me and offered his apology and offered me a hot chocolate drink and a few cookies and sweets. When I thanked him, he said: “I do not need you to thank me. I need you to know that we are not all oppressors.” … This is precisely what made me add this comment at the end of my story for I don’t want the reader to think that I fault all Americans … . I did not mention all such incidents in the course of telling my story because I was striving to speak about our deplorable conditions. There was no room to add this comment until now. But for the sake of justice and fairness I wanted to add this comment for any American who may read my story.

In June 2005, Colangelo-Bryan, Sullivan, and another Dorsey & Whitney partner, 36-year-old Chris Karagheuzoff, traveled to Bahrain. Bahrain is host to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, so they hoped the country would have some leverage. They met with their clients’ families, held meetings with parliamentarians, and gave interviews to the Bahraini press.

The trips improved their relationships with their clients; on subsequent Gitmo visits, the lawyers could provide news from home. Havens says that she had one client who would sit in the corner of his cell with his prayer rug over his head, refusing to speak. But when she explained in her broken Arabic that, on a trip to Yemen, she had seen his mother, who had given her a ring, her client said, through tears, “Sarah, you deserve so much more than that.” It was the first thing he had said in months.

In October 2005, Colangelo-Bryan went to Guantánamo to see Al Dossari again. His client handed him an envelope and said they would discuss the contents later. They talked for a while. Eventually, Al Dossari said he needed a bathroom break, so guards were summoned to move him. A few minutes passed with no indication from Al Dossari that he was done, so Colangelo-Bryan went to check on him. He found Al Dossari hanging unconscious by a noose. A stream of blood from a gash in his arm had formed a puddle on the floor. The envelope contained a suicide note that read in part:

Josh … I feel very sorry for forcing you to see a human who suffered too much … dying in front of your eyes … I know it is an awful and horrible scene, but … there was no other alternative to make our voice heard by the world from the depth of the detention center except this way in order for the world to re-examine its standing and for the fair people of America to look at the situation and try to have a moment of truth with themselves.

Al Dossari survived, though Colangelo-Bryan was told that someone in the military might have suggested that he had supplied the implement Al Dossari used. Back in New York, Colangelo-Bryan filed a motion asking that Al Dossari be permitted to speak with his family, that he be granted more human contact and reading material, and that he be examined by an independent psychologist. The government countered that there was no need to grant any of Colangelo-Bryan’s “laundry list” because it would place an undue burden on the United States. Furthermore, it claimed, Al Dossari didn’t need more human contact because he had daily interaction with guards, medical staff, and interrogators.

Three weeks after Al Dossari’s suicide attempt, three of Dorsey & Whitney’s clients were released, but Al Dossari was not among them. Colangelo-Bryan doesn’t know what brought about their release, but family members say the firm’s meetings in Bahrain, as well as the constant presence of the lawyers in the media, made an impact.

“Josh,” Al Dossari wrote before one of his suicide attempts. “I feel very sorry for forcing you to see a human who suffered dying in front of your eyes. I know it is an awful and horrible scene, but there was no other alternative to make our voice heard.”

Late last year, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina introduced legislation that called for the detainees to be treated humanely but also stripped U.S. courts of jurisdiction over Guantánamo. In an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, the senator claimed that CSRTs went well beyond the Geneva Convention and that therefore there was no need to give the detainees “unlimited access to U.S. courts.” He accused the lawyers of abusing the legal system by clogging the courts with frivolous motions, citing the lawyers’ requests to show their clients DVDs as an example. “Can you imagine Nazi prisoners suing us about their reading material?” he asked.

The measure passed as an amendment to the defense-authorization bill, effectively stripping the detainees of the right of habeas corpus. “It’s now statutory law that a confession forced by coercion has to be considered in deciding whether to lock someone up forever in Guantánamo,” says Colangelo-Bryan. “Tin-pot dictatorships don’t have statutes that say you can imprison people when they confess after being tortured. Dictators may do that, but it won’t be explicitly authorized by the law.”

In March, Colangelo-Bryan received a call from some other detainee lawyers who said they had just returned from Gitmo and heard from their clients that Al Dossari had tried to cut his throat. Colangelo-Bryan called the Justice Department to find out what had happened. They refused to tell him anything. A few weeks later, he received a handwritten letter from Al Dossari in English. It was dated March 8 and read:

“My dear friend Josh, Finally I found a good chance. Finally I will get my freedom very very [sic] soon. When you receive this letter I will be done… . Thank you Josh about evry [sic] thing, you did for my [sic].”

Fearing Al Dossari might be dead, Colangelo-Bryan spoke to a reporter at the Washington Post, who was able to get confirmation from the military that there had been another suicide attempt.

Colangelo-Bryan visited Gitmo again in May. He and a colleague met with Al Dossari in the naval hospital. Al Dossari had a massive scar on his leg and another across his Adam’s apple. Al Dossari explained that he had gotten hold of a safety razor, broken it apart, and hid the blade behind a mirror in his cell, then drafted the letter to Colangelo-Bryan. Three days later, on March 11, Al Dossari stuffed the lid of a yogurt container into the lock on his cell door, then cut open his leg with the razor. As guards tried to unlock the door, Al Dossari slit his throat. He awoke in the hospital. When he returned to his cell a few days later, he was strapped to a bed with three-point restraints for seven weeks. He was unstrapped only a couple of days before Colangelo-Bryan arrived. Now Colangelo-Bryan’s hopes for Al Dossari rest in two new psychiatrists at Guantánamo, whom his client describes as professional and smart. It’s much less than he and the other lawyers had hoped for when they started out.

“We got the detainees’ stories out there, and there is much less abuse since we started going to Gitmo, but in terms of their psyches, they would have been better off had they never met us,” Falkoff says.

The Minutes of the Guantánamo Bay Bar Association