Janet Hamlin has worked as a sketch artist at the Guantanamo Bay hearings since 2006, documenting the trials of detainees ranging from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11th attacks, to David Hicks, a former cowboy and kangaroo skinner who was sentenced to nine months for training in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Since cameras and recording equipment are forbidden in the trials, her drawings form the primary visual record of the events that have taken place there.
Guantanamo tribunals differed from the other court drawings I’ve done. For instance, there were faces I was not allowed to draw, and each drawing could not leave the courtroom until a Pentagon official reviewed it. He would examine the art, occasionally have me erase some of the details, then sign and stamp the art once approved. Then I carried the sketches back, uploaded them to the media pool with descriptions, grabbed lunch, and got back for the afternoon session, going through three levels of security every time we entered or left the court area, always with an escort. Time is precious.