At one end of a converted trailer in the U.S. military detention center at Guantánamo Bay, a graying Pakistani businessman sat shackled before a review board of uniformed officers, pleading for his freedom.
The prisoner had seen only a brief summary of what officials said was a thick dossier of intelligence linking him to al-Qaida. He had not seen his own legal papers since they were taken away in an unrelated investigation. He has lawyers working on his behalf in Washington, London and Pakistan, but at Guantánamo his only assistance came from an Army lieutenant colonel, who stumbled as he read the prisoner's handwritten statement.
As the hearing concluded, the detainee, who cannot be identified publicly under military rules, had one question. He is a citizen of Pakistan, he noted. He was arrested on a business trip to Thailand. On what authority or charges was he even being held?
"That question," a Marine colonel presiding over the panel answered, "is outside the limits of what this board is permitted to consider."