Thursday, February 10, 2011

DVD Review: You Don't Like the Truth

You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guanatanmo ***
Luc Côté & Patricio Henriquez.

I have lost count of the number of documentaries I have seen about the abuses of the American legal system, and about the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay during America’s current war on terror. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to what America is subjecting their “enemies” to as they detain as many innocent people as actual terrorists, and cannot seem to tell the two apart. What makes You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantanamo different for me is two things – one, it actually contains the video of an interview being carried out on a suspected terrorists and two, the suspected terrorist was Omar Khadr, a 16 year old Canadian citizen, and the man interviewing him is from our own intelligence service, CSIS. When Khadr was detained in Afghanistan, and sent to a prison in Bagram where he was tortured, the Canadian government did nothing to help him. When he was shipped to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the Canadian government did nothing to help him either, and sent their own agents down to try and get him to confess to being a terrorist and a murderer (Khadr was being held because he allegedly threw a grenade that killed an American medic – a claim that has been proven false by any reasonable measure, which apparently does not include the military tribunal trial that Khadr faced).

On day 1 of the interview conducted by CSIS, in co-operation with the CIA, Khadr is visibly happy that Canadians are there. He had been requesting contact with the Canadian government for months – something that would be standard if he was arrested anywhere in the world – but had been refused. He repeats the story he told to the CIA in Bagram, and earlier in Guantanamo, and things appear to be going well. All that changes on day 2 however, as Khadr has realized that these Canadians are not there to help him – aren’t there to try and free him, but just want to same thing the CIA does. He changes his story – tells them that he only said what he said earlier because he was tortured and feared worse would happen if he did not say what they wanted him to. They call him a liar, they want him to tell them more information on what he said earlier. He insists he was lying – and it is clear to anyone watching the tape that he is now telling the truth – but they are not interested in that. They want more lies. The title of the movie comes from something Khadr tells his interviewers – that they don’t like the truth, they want more lies.

If you are not outraged by the treatment that Khadr received at the hands of the Americans, as well as his own government here in Canada, than there is nothing I can do to help you. This is a scared child whose only crime is that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that he gave into torture and told them what they wanted to hear. Later, when he tries to correct this, and tell the truth, no one cares. It makes a better story that he had celebrated Ramadan with Osama Bin Laden, who also attended his sister’s wedding, and that Khadr and his father knew people who wanted to attack inside Canada.

As a Canadian, I am ashamed at the actions of my government in regards to this case. When questioned about it, the Harper government defended their decision to do what they did, and demonized Khadr. Since then, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled in Khadr’s favor, saying his civil rights were violated by this interrogation by CSIS. A lot of good it did Khadr. Faced with 40 years in jail, largely based on this video interrogation, he plead guilty and was sentenced to 8 years in jail – this was after spending 8 years already in detention without a charge being filed. He is the first child to be convicted of war crimes since the end of WWII.

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