Solitary not solitary any longer. Now it’s “single-occupancy”
If you missed my co-blogger The Talking Dog’s interview with attorney Rebecca Dick of the Washington, D.C. office of Dechert, LLP, who is representing a number of Afghan nationals currently detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, I urge you to go back and read it.
Among the passages that struck me… We now know well how the Bush administration sought to redefine torture. Well it turns out that it has redefined solitary confinement, too:
The Talking Dog You have been quoted recently observing that the current regime of near total isolation in which most of the Guantanamo detainees are now being held has contributed to a deterioration in their mental health. To what extent have you observed this with your own clients, and what, if anything, has the government said in response when you have raised these issues?
Rebecca Dick: All clients have become more depressed in solitary. One told me, “I look alive, but actually I’m dead.” Some also become somewhat paranoid and at the same time, intellectually paralyzed, unable to make even small decisions. I meet with them every 3-4 months, and each time I see further deterioration.
The government has not responded directly to complaints about solitary confinement. Its public tone has shifted, however, from defending solitary as the only way to handle “the worst of the worst,” to suggesting that the prisoners aren’t really in solitary after all. One official actually said the prisoners are just in “single-occupancy cells.” He neglected to mention that the prisoners don’t get out of these cells very much, and, when they do, don’t always see anyone else who speaks their language.