Friday, March 17, 2006

The Road to Guantanamo & The Tipton Three
I went to the the Watershed showing of 'The Road to Guantanamo' yesterday. The film was excellent and did not suffer from the what many 'worthy' films do – in being either too preachy or dull. The main thing that comes across from the film is the humanity of the three Brummies caught in the middle of global events and the inhumanity of the US/UK military machine. Typical interrogation exchange went something like:

US Intelligence Officer: Is that not you in this video at a rally with Osama Bin Laden?
(Points to grainy video)
Brummy Lad: Thats not me. It looks nothing like me.
US Intelligence Officer: No, that is you.
Brummy Lad: That date on the video? Its says 2000?
US Intelligence Officer: Yes, that was the date it was shot.
Brummy Lad: That can't have been me, I was working in Currys then.

Either the intelligence people are playing a game of double-double bluff or they are so ill-informed of their charges that they make such simple and provably wrong mistakes. The above exchange is typical of the integration scenes shown and would be laughable for the ineptitude and Kafkaesque methods of questioning, if so much were not at stake. They were told to write home and get proof of where they were in summer 2000 and yet refused pen, paper, stamps or envelopes. They only way they could extract anything from them, as there was no proof, was via torture. To quote former POW and now Republican senator John McCain, "...subjecting prisoners to abuse leads to bad intelligence, because under torture a detainee will tell his interrogator anything to make the pain stop." Lets not forget this is the same system that told us Saddam has WDMs and that the war in Iraq would help fight terrorism, rather than create more.

Most of the guards at Guantanamo, working under the motto 'Honor Bound to Defend Freedom' seems more like Gruppenf├╝rers; "NO PRAYING! NO PRAYING!" they scream at people in cages and some seem to delight in torturing and intimidating their charges. The American dream in action.

Following the film the Tipton Three themselves spoke. As they arrived on stage, they were greeted to a standing ovation. It seemed to me this was a mark of respect for these very ordinary people who had survived an extraordinary experience and kept their dignity. There are still people trying to smear them and they talked about the death threats they and their families get from BNP-type far right nutters. I believe this is fueled by sections of the press who refuse to let go of guilt by association. Some find it had to believe that three twenty year olds could be a big reckless or foolhardy, that something else must have happened. Well newsflash; twenty year old lads can be reckless and foolhardy. Shit happens, but that does not justify torture and kidnapping and detention without trial. One questioner asked the three if they had any hate or anger over what had happened. The reply was; "No, I just want to get on with my life. I left my hate in Guantanamo".

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