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Consequences of Truth

You Don't Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantánamo (2010)

Films Transit

Omar Khadr, a 15-year-old Canadian, was barely alive when American troops captured him in July 2002 after a firefight in Afghanistan that killed an American soldier. Mr. Khadr then spent several months in Bagram before being transferred in February 2003 to Guantánamo Bay, where he was interrogated by Canadian military and intelligence agents for four days in the presence of a C.I.A. officer. The tapes of these interrogations were recently declassified by the Supreme Court of Canada; and directors Luc Côté and Patricio Henriquez have built a riveting film around them.

The filmmakers have used the simplest of techniques. We see several people watching the tapes on a laptop, including Mr. Khadr’s American military lawyer, Canadian lawyers, mother, older sister and experts on torture and child soldiers. These witnesses analyzed the methods used in the interrogations and explain how Mr. Khadr came to be where he was captured and — as much as is possible — the facts about his case. Four of Mr. Khadr’s fellow prisoners from Bagram and Guantánamo Bay also discussed the Mr. Khadr they knew and what he was like. All of them emphasized his age. The directors even featured an interview with an American soldier who openly admits he tortured inmates in Bagram.

The quality of the interview footage is terrible, but it clearly shows what Hannah Arendt termed “the banality of evil,” as the intelligence officers complained about the heat, offered sandwiches from Subway and McDonald’s and endlessly fiddled with the noisy air conditioner. But Messrs. Côté and Henriquez missed an obvious trick: They did not interview anyone who defends the United States’ and Canada’s treatment of this child, explains why it was acceptable to break every United Nations regulation in the handling of underage prisoners and child soldiers or demonstrates how Mr. Khadr’s treatment has kept the world safe from international terrorism. In failing to find anyone willing to go on record to defend this, Messrs. Côté and Henriquez make only a one-sided argument. Despite this obvious misstep, their movie is a brave and essential look inside Guantánamo Bay and the war on terror. It’s uncomfortable viewing; but — for anyone who cares about justice or freedom — utterly essential.


Opens on Sept. 28 in Manhattan and on Oct. 7 in Britain.

Written, produced and directed by Luc Côté and Patricio Henriquez; directors of photography, Mr. Côté and Mr. Henriquez; edited by Andrea Henriquez; released by Films Transit (United States) and Dogwoof (Britain). Running time: 1 hour 39 minutes. This film is not rated.


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