‘We Are Not Ghouls’ Examines The Invisible Victims Of America’s Struggle On Terror

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We Are Not Ghouls is an incisive have a look at what it means to work inside a system that’s essentially damaged, in a rustic that’s complicit in committing atrocities even because it claims to guard its residents from them. Based mostly on the 2009 ebook The Guantanamo Attorneys: Inside a Jail Outdoors the Legislation, the documentary units up a case of ‘improper place, improper time’ and proceeds to unravel its chilling implications over the following 95 minutes. Binyam Mohamed, a UK resident and up to date convert to Islam, travels to Afghanistan for a non secular tour when the 2001 American struggle prevents him from returning. On a detour to Pakistan, he’s picked up for possession of a cast passport and detained whereas prices of terrorism are levied towards him. What observe are seven years of government-sanctioned torture and the demise penalty cost. 

Pieced collectively from archival footage, reenactments and interviews with consultants, the documentary’s simplest device is the testimony of Yvonne Bradley, the army lawyer who volunteered to defend Mohamed. Her presence not solely helps put collectively the items of the puzzle, but in addition establishes her as a authorities worker whose eyes have been regularly opened to the bigger image. Detailing her personal preliminary confusion on the prices, Bradley systematically demolishes the false narratives constructed by the US authorities by stating logical loopholes and inconsistencies within the proof. A backstory, painted in broad strokes, units up the conflicting points of Bradley’s id. As a Christian, she’s reluctant at first to defend somebody she perceives as responsible of heinous crimes. As a Black lady, nonetheless, her expertise of being othered and discriminated towards brings her round to Mohamed’s perspective. The documentary often represents the 2 of them as figures on taking part in playing cards, underlining not solely how the justice system is as susceptible to collapse as a home of playing cards, however how detainees should cope with the arbitrary hand they’ve been dealt. 

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At its most chilling, the documentary veers away from reenactments and easily focuses on a voiceover from Mohamed, who recounts torture strategies comparable to being confined bare in full darkness, uncovered to audio of individuals screaming 24 hours a day for six months and having his genitals lacerated. Sketches of prisoners subjected to simulated drownings full the grisly image. Documentary filmmaker Chris James Thompson deftly juxtaposes these personal brutalities towards the federal government’s public image-making. At a press convention held by Protection Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a journalist asks: Do you assume any of the prisoners you captured are harmless?” just for the room to burst into laughter. The longer Mohamed languishes behind bars, the slimmer his probabilities of being let loose develop into — the US authorities can’t danger him revealing what they’ve put him by. The documentary urges viewers to withstand their impulse to query whether or not Mohamed was responsible of the crimes he was accused of, and as an alternative query whether or not that actually justifies the usage of systematic torture as a punishment. 

We Are Not Ghouls is a hanging documentation of American historical past, however extra considerably, a mirror to present international cruelties. Its title comes from a US authorities official who makes use of the phrase to refute allegations of torture, whereas tacitly elevating assist for it by scaring the general public with descriptions of vivid, imagined brutalities that the othered may try to hold out. In a system that trains its workers to be environment friendly cogs within the authorities equipment, it takes a disaster of conscience to behave in a different way, a minor miracle the documentary sees for what it’s.

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