Adnan Latif died on Saturday. He died in Guantánamo. The Pentagon says he was 32 years old. David Remes, one of his lawyers, says that his documents show that he was 35 or 36 years old. Given the U.S. government’s dismal track record in getting its facts straight on the people they have rendered, tortured and detained for years without charge, I’ll go with David’s assessment.
Either way, Adnan and I were close in age.
Of all the things I could write about, this is what I keep coming back to. I’m trying to figure out what it is about this particular piece of horror news that is making me cry. This is a question worth asking when reading horror news is a big part of what you do for a living, and the things that once made you cry – the things that you imagined would make everyone cry – stop doing so as regularly, probably because crying all the time, every day, would be too hard.
Last night, I taught my first class of the semester, and today, the mad, exhilarating rush of project work begins, but all I can think about is how long a decade is. I’ve been thinking about how when Adnan was 25, or maybe 24, my government bought Adnan from the Pakistanis for $5000, and flew him, shackled and drugged, to Guantánamo. And how it was around the same time that this same government flew me to Niger to serve in the Peace Corps, where I explained to Muslims that, never mind what they heard on the radio, my country was not at war with Islam.
The series of images flickers by, our decades in review in split-screen, the realization that for the last ten years, while I made my way through nine homes and a dozen countries; while I explored two other careers before applying to, attending, graduating from and coming back to teach law school; while I was meeting, befriending, falling in love with and marrying my husband—Adnan was sitting, pacing, writing, and fighting in a cell, ill and far from his loved ones.
His lawyer David, who spent the better part of the last few years fighting alongside Adnan for justice, released this statement about him:
“Slightly built and gentle, he was a father and husband. He was a talented poet and was devoutly religious. He never posed a threat to the United States, and he never should have been brought to Guantanamo. The military has not stated a cause of death. However Adnan died, it was Guantanamo that killed him. His death is a reminder of the human cost of the government’s Guantanamo detention policy and underscores the urgency of releasing detainees the government does not intend to prosecute.”
Adam Cohen of The Atlantic summarizes here, with devastating efficiency, the perversity of the system that brought him to this death.