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Speed Reading Suskind: Leave Me My Name!

Pulitzer-prize winning political writer Ron Suskind's new book, The Way of the World, was released in stores today. The book is chock full of political intrigue and little-reported anecdotes from the past eight years of the Bush administration. We asked Alyssa Rosenberg, a correspondent for Government Executive and TNR speed-reader in residence, to find the hidden treasure in Suskind's 400-page tome. She'll be posting her findings on The Plank over the next few days:

Candace Gorman, a lawyer whose representation of a Guantanamo detainee named Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi is one of the more personal threads Suskind weaves together, encounters no small amount of frustration through the course of her efforts. But one anecdote stopped me cold. Gorman's reviewing Supreme Court filings with Ghizzawi, when he remarks that the name she's been using on the paperwork, Abdul Hamid Abdul Alam al-Ghizzawi, isn't his.

"Okay, let me show you," Ghizzawi said, spinning the document around--her document--so he could explain. "There, you see, my name is Abdul Hamid, al-Ghizzawi. Those other two words--Abdul Alam--are stuck in the middle." Ghizzawi looked up. "That's the name of the man in the cell next to me in the beginning, when I first came here. He's gone. He may have died. I don't know. But they made us one person."

Doesn't bode too well for our efforts at Guantanamo. And as for the personal indignity, the only appropriate commentary seems to be another quotation, this one from John Proctor, the main character in Arthur Miller's The Crucible: "How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!"

--Alyssa Rosenberg

Speed Reading Suskind, Part 1: Bush's Fatal Flaw

Speed Reading Suskind, Part 2: Detain'd