Here’s what is known about Omar Khadr, the Canadian Guantánamo detainee whose four-day interrogation session is at the heart of the enraging documentary You Don’t Like The Truth: When he was 15 years old, his militant father left him at a compound of Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan, where footage was found of him helping to build IEDs. In July 2002, he was severely wounded in an assault on the compound that led to the death of an American soldier by a hand grenade. The authorities contend that Khadr was responsible; his supporters counter that his wounds—a bullet through his chest and another through his shoulder, and shrapnel in his eye—make that unlikely. Yet of all the information above, the essential fact conveyed powerfully by You Don’t Like The Truth is this: Omar Khadr was 15 years old, a child soldier, the first to go on trial for war crimes since Nuremberg. And his path to that trial—in front of a military judge, of course—came after six years in the legal (and moral) black holes of Bagram and Guantánamo, where he was subjected to torture and illegal interrogation.
Built around seven hours of surveillance footage of Khadr’s questioning by Canadian officials in February 2003, You Don’t Like The Truth plays like an annotated version of Point Of Order, Emile de Antonio’s landmark documentary about the Senate Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954. Directors Luc Côté and Patricio Henriquez show raw scenes of the four-day affair through the three surveillance cameras on hand, augmented by interviews that shed light on the facts of the case and Khadr’s psychological state. Though Côté and Henriquez are advocating unambiguously on Khadr’s behalf, they gather commentary from a good range of sources, from Khadr’s family members and lawyers to the Toronto Star’s national-security reporter and, most poignantly, Damien Corsetti, a former Army interrogator at Bagram known as “The Monster” for his brutality.
Apart from shedding light on the dubious legality of the interrogation, You Don’t Like The Truth forcefully questions its effectiveness in getting information. At first, Khadr seems happy to speak with fellow Canadians, but when as it becomes clear that they aren’t there to help him, he becomes despondent, incommunicative, and cagey about what little information he gives them. Côté and Henriquez err in pressing their case too hard on occasion, especially when they cut to reaction shots of Khadr supporters watching footage of his agony; there’s a line between providing context and manipulating the audience that they don’t care to acknowledge. Then again, subtlety isn’t likely the goal: You Don’t Like The Truth beats the drum, and beats it loudly.