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Photos of Guantanamo Detainees Put Faces to Story



The images, says Watriss, herself a former news photographer, "are not photojournalism. They're about a particular kind of intra-professional and inter-human communication."

Watriss assembled the show from photos that Margot Herster, a former New York photography student, collected from several attorneys, among them her husband, who now teaches at the University of Texas.

There is outrage and sadness - everything but the U.S. administration's version of these prisoners as dangerous fanatics whose freedom could threaten America.

The attorneys narrate the show, in video and audio displays, and emerge as advocates on a mission, globe trotters offering a unique bridge between cell-side chats that no camera can record and conversations with kin half a world away.

Says one attorney in a video, talking about a client: "He's very depressed, and he gave me his last will and testament ..."

Then, nearly sobbing, she tells the videographer to stop.

Elsewhere, another lawyer soberly describes finding his captive hanging and bloody from self-inflicted wounds. His words are heard in a darkened chamber where the visitor hears crude recordings of detainee status hearings and lawyers discussing their clients' cases.

"I think it's novel that any work that could be seen as critical of the (Bush) administration would be shown in Houston, especially by a big institution like ours," says FotoFest publicist Vinod Hopson.

Lawyers turned to their photography to overcome huge gaps. For more than two years, the Bush administration forbade lawyers from representing war-on-terror captives at Guantanamo.

Then a U.S. Supreme Court decision cracked open the cages, just a bit, for attorney-client conferences. So, slowly, in stages, America's legal establishment embraced the idea of habeas corpus counsel for "the worst of the worst."

But by the time some lawyers got to Guantanamo, their clients, after years of interrogation and isolation, didn't believe that the attorney sitting across from them was actually their advocate.



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