I feel like there is a heavy weight on my chest – it’s as if I’m breathing through a needle hole. And then I ask myself, “If I write or say something, is anybody going to listen to me? Is it really going to make any difference?”
Zaher Hamdoun is a 36-year-old Yemeni man who has been detained in Guantánamo without charge since he was 22, one of 116 prisoners still detained there six years after Obama promised to close the facility. After I visited him earlier this summer, he followed up with a letter filled with questions.
Will there be a day when I will live like others live? Like a person who has freedom, dignity, a home, a family, a job, a wife and children?
Hamdoun is not among the 52 men approved for transfer from Guantánamo, nor is he in a dwindling group of detainees the government plans to charge. He is in a nebulous middle category of people the Obama administration has determined it is not going to charge but doesn’t know if it is ever going to release. Though the president in 2011 ordered periodic administrative reviews of men in this group to ensure that any continuing detentions were “carefully justified,” the reviews didn’t start until a mass hunger strike broke out in 2013 and forced Guantánamo back onto the administration’s agenda. Still today, the majority of men haven’t been reviewed, including Hamdoun....