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Testimony to Witness to Guantanamo (Gitanjali Gutierrez)

Suicidal Client

I had a client once who was suicidal, and was expressing it in a very subtle way that I was not quite catching on to. And my interpreter was giving me some cues to understand what was being said. The guy was trying to recite his will to me in a way that was not like we would recite a will, but just "tell my wife this, tell my family this, make sure that this happens," and the interpreter was, like, "you understand he is giving you a will?" And then kept interpreting and said, "do you realize the importance of this?" And, all of a sudden I realized what was happening (and they started shortening our meetings too; like, we couldn't go as early in the morning and in the afternoon we were getting pulled out earlier). So I started catching on what was happening. So I stopped immediately and said, "Listen, you keep saying 'if something happens to me.' Are you talking about if they do something to you or are you saying that you may make something happen to yourself?"

So I am trying to clarify what's going on, and get some sort of "can we talk about this next time I visit again in a month?" And, it's 4:15 and the MP opens the door and says "the meeting is gotta end," and I snarl at him "get out, OK, fine, we still have ten minutes" and they just kept doing that; they just kept coming in, and I just kept snarling at them to get out, but then at 4:30 they open the door and they just stand there. So the interpreter and I-—and the client too-- were having this sort of frantic two-minute conversation and I'm just booted out; you had to leave and, at that point we couldn't call our client, and I can't come back the next day and talk to him; these visits have to be planned minimum twenty days in advance; and it's usually more logistically difficult because the interpreter has to be available, and your schedule has to be available, and the DoD has to approve that date… So just walk out of the door and hope that this isn't a crisis and that, in a month, I'll be able to meet with the client and we will be able to pick up at this point, but it's also, even if it was sort of only a red flag for "I'm not doing well", to not be able to just spend an extra hour with a person and acknowledge it, and come up with a plan about what you are going to do between now and the next visit, really made things difficult.

And that opening the door and standing there at the end of the meeting was very typical… Often, often, so many times, clients would have really hard things that they needed to talk about, that they would bring up in the last half-hour of the meeting, almost inevitably. And then it becomes, kind of, they know that you are leaving, and they finally, frantically, will start talking about something, and the MPs come in at that [moment] and they won't leave. So I started ending my work, maybe an hour before we had to leave--depending on the client maybe a little earlier. I would end the "work" and then we would talk about whatever. We'd eat, we'd talk, to just try and leave as much space as possible for that kind of stuff to come up (if I thought it may; if it was going to) so that we wouldn't have that kind of frantic last two minutes.

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