Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Road to Guantanamo


I really hated this film. It’s about four guys from Tipton, England, of Pakistani descent, who go to Pakistan for the arranged wedding of one of them. (That’s insane, in my opinion, and a good illustration of how very far many Muslims have to go to attain civilization, but it’s their business.) Trouble is, it’s October of 2001. While there, they get the idea to go to Afghanistan. They say it’s to render humanitarian aid to the people there, as urged by a local Imam. Trouble is, we only have their word for everything in this story. The technique here is to have the actual three guys (Oops! One of them vanished in Afghanistan and was never seen again) talk to the camera and tell their tale, and “dramatize” it with actors. Hated it, hated it. But that’s only the beginning of where this film went wrong.

Friends and neighbors, I’ve thought and thought, and I can only think of four reasons why anyone would go to Afghanistan in October, 2001:

1. You’re driving a B-52. But you won’t be landing.

2. You’re way, way, way beyond stupid.

3. You’re a member of the news media. (Come to think of it, Reason 2 covers this, too.)

4. You’re going to aid and/or fight for the Taliban. (See Reason 2 again.)

My sympathy for Taliban supporters, whether with “aid” or arms, is way, way, way below zero. So right off the bat I hated these assholes. Before long they’re in over their heads. This ain’t like Tipton. There’s fuckin’ bombs falling! Like all the rest of the Taliban, they run for their fucking lives. (The Taliban proved to be a lot better at shooting women in the head in public soccer stadiums than at fighting.) Somehow, the Three Stooges end up in the last stronghold of the T. Accidentally. Just climbed on this here truck, see, and next thing we knew they were shooting the shit out of us! We are told about and shown a lot of mangled corpses, with sad music playing in the background. All I could think about was that, two months before, the T banned the playing of all music, and mercilessly beat women whose burkas got caught in a gust of wind and thus showed a bare ankle. (I saw footage of that actual thing.) So fuck you mangled corpses, every last one of you.

The jolly lads are rounded up, nearly killed by the harsh conditions of imprisonment under the Northern Alliance (who showed remarkable forbearance, for Afghans, by not simply machine gunning the lot of them), and eventually handed over to the American forces for interrogation at Guantanamo. They spent the next three years there, protesting their innocence, bravely enduring very harsh conditions.

That’s their story, and they’re stickin’ to it.

IMHO, I think they went to Kabul to celebrate 9/11, and help repel the NATO forces who were expected to invade at any moment. But I can’t prove it. Neither can they prove a single moment of their tale of woe in Afghanistan, or at Guantanamo.

Now let me be perfectly clear. I do believe their stories about Gitmo. There has been plenty of corroborating testimony, and the fascists running the place, right up to the Oval Office, have admitted most of it, even bragged about it. Camp X-Ray and Camp Delta are disgraces to America, wrong in just about every way it’s possible to be wrong. They should be dismantled right now, the inmates brought to America and put on trial. It will take us a long time to live it all down, if we ever can. But even here the movie fails. The chief indignity at Guantanamo is sensory isolation, inducing mind-numbing boredom. The movie achieved that, all right. I was bored almost to sleep. This part was a lot longer than Varley remembers because he actually did nod off. A better director might have found a way to make it all not only horrifying, but of cinematic interest, too. But Michael Winterbottom (normally a pretty righteous dude) is so wrapped up in his advocacy for these jerks that he apparently forgot to make an interesting movie. This is biased leftist sob-story crap of a type I haven’t seen since Bowling for Columbine.