An inmate of the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, in 2002, Omar Khadr was the sole survivor of an American attack on a house containing suspected Afghan insurgents.
An inmate of the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, in 2002, Omar
Khadr was the sole survivor of an American attack on a house containing
suspected Afghan insurgents.
Peppered with shrapnel wounds, blind in one eye and bearing several
bullet wounds to the chest, Omar was then taken prisoner, arrested and charged
with murdering a US soldier, killed in the attack by a grenade. He was then airlifted to the infamous
detention centre at Bagram Airbase where he received minimal medical attention
to his near-fatal wounds and, he alleges, he was then interrogated under
torture, a claim supported not just by his fellow prisoners but by one of
America’s most infamous ‘interrogators,’ Damien “Monster” Corsetti, who
witnessed first-hand his abuse.
Omar Khadr was 15 years old and a Canadian citizen.
Culled from four days of secret video footage, the only film ever to
emerge from America’s secret prison, Four Days In Guantanamo is a genuinely
shocking indictment of the things being done in our names. The footage, classified until 2009,
shows agents of the Canadian intelligence services, the CSIS, Canada’s answer
to Britain’s MI6, grilling a teenage countryman who had been tortured by
American forces, held incommunicado for a year and denied legal representation
or access to Canadian Embassy staff.
The questioning takes place in a Guantanamo Bay interrogation cell and
is starkly filmed by hidden US Army surveillance cameras.
Initially elated to finally have some contact with representatives of
his own country and believing his nightmare to be almost over, we watch as
Khadr’s joy turns to an almost suicidal despair as he’s subjected to four days
of relentless questioning, his initial hopes that finally someone is going to
listen to his side of the story turning to ash as his interrogators move from
two-faced friendship to outright bullying. His emotional breakdown is coldly devastating and one of the
bleakest, most desolate pieces of film you will ever see. Robbed off all hope, each time he is
asked for the truth by his interrogators, he can only answer: “You don’t like
the truth.” Côté and Henriquez have taken the original footage,
split the screen to show all three feeds at once, the empty fourth quarter of
the screen often occupied by experts and interviewees like former detainee
journalist and human rights campaigner Mozaam Begg. psychiatrists, Khadr’s
lawyers, family and military personnel.
Toronto Star reporter Michelle Shephard takes us through the post-attack
drone footage, questioning whether the badly injured teenager, shot three
times, blinded by shrapnel, facedown, buried by rubble, could even have
physically thrown the grenade while human rights campaigners point out that
under international law Khadr should have been classed as a child soldier and
protected not only by his home country Canada but by the full weight of the
One of the most fascinating interview subjects is repentant former
interrogator Corsetti who offers both a fascinating deconstruction of the
vulnerable Khadr’s increasingly hopeless, defeated body language, a dissection
of the interrogators’ mindset and his own personal recollections of the teenage
Khadr at Bagram. One of the few
detainees whom the bearlike soldier took pity upon, Corsetti
remembers the 15-year was so badly injured while being abused by other US
soldiers that he had still a hole in his chest the size of a Coke can. Genuinely believing Khadr is innocent
of all charges, Corsetti obviously empathises with the teenager and, like
Khadr’s military lawyer, he has completely lost all faith in the very concept
of American justice.