Attorney James Connell has visited his client inside the secret Guantanamo prison complex known as Camp 7 only once, taken in a van with covered windows on a circuitous trek to disguise the route on the scrub brush-and-cactus covered military base.
Connell is allowed to say virtually nothing about what he saw in the secret camp where the most notorious terror suspects in U.S. custody are held except that it is unlike any detention facility he's encountered.
"It's much more isolating than any other facility that I have known," the lawyer says. "I've done cases from the Virginia death row and Texas death row and these pretrial conditions are much more isolating."
The Camp 7 prison unit is so shrouded in secrecy that its location on the U.S. base in Cuba is classified and officials refuse to discuss it. Now, two separate but related events are forcing it into the limelight.
In Washington, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted on April 3 to declassify a portion of a review of the U.S. detention and interrogation program in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida attack. The report, the release of which is opposed by the CIA, is expected to be sharply critical of the treatment of prisoners, including some now held in Camp 7.