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The Report, a film about U.S. Senate investigation of CIA torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was released in the U.S. on Nov. 15, 2019. (Photo: Amazon)

Tortured by CIA and Detained at Gitmo Without Trial, Ahmed Rabbani Gives Haunting Review of 'The Report'—a New Film He'll Likely Never See

"If we do not learn from history we will be doomed to repeat our mistakes—and I would hate for anyone else to endure what I have had to endure."

Jessica Corbett

A victim of the CIA's post-9/11 torture program who has spent over 15 years locked up in the U.S. military prison at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba shared his thoughts on a new film entitled The Report in an op-ed published Tuesday by USA Today.

"It is interesting to hear about the film, and I am glad Amazon had the courage to make it. On the other hand, there are some omissions that make me sad."
—Ahmed Rabbani, Gitmo detainee

"I will likely never be allowed to see The Report," which was released in United States theaters on Friday, because "the censors will not likely let the movie reach my detention center," wrote Mohammed Ahmed Ghulam Rabbani.

However, "my lawyers have told me about it," Rabbani continued, noting that he is one of the few detainees at the U.S. prison known as Gitmo who received a copy of the redacted executive summary (pdf) from the more-than 6,700-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture—which inspired the film.

"It is interesting to hear about the film, and I am glad Amazon had the courage to make it," he wrote. "On the other hand, there are some omissions that make me sad."

Rabbani, a Pakistani citizen and former taxi driver from Karachi, has been imprisoned at Gitmo without charge or trial since 2004. "I was mistaken for an extremist, captured by Gen. Pervez Musharraf's government, and sold to the CIA for a bounty in 2002," he explained in The Los Angeles Times last year. "I have withstood a lot of torture. Before they brought me to Guantánamo, the Americans took me to a black site in Kabul known as the Dark Prison, where my hands were shackled overhead for days on end."

Written and directed by filmmaker Scott Z. Burns, The Report stars Adam Driver as Daniel Jones, the lead Senate investigator for the torture report, and Annette Bening as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chaired the Intelligence Committee 2009–2015. In December 2014, the committee released the report's more-than 500-page executive summary, but the full version remains classified.

The Report's release has provoked fact-checking efforts and a wide range of reviews. Some viewers have called the film "a cool, dry look at the facts" and praised Burns for building "maximum suspense out of people in suits shuffling papers in windowless rooms." Critics have called it "deadly dull" and suggested that "it's like an illustrated lecture by a stolid history professor, or if you prefer, an extended episode of The West Wing leeched of all the fun."

Although Rabbani likely won't ever see The Report, he offered his own criticism based on what his lawyers have shared with him:

There is no explanation why Daniel Jones only reviewed CIA documents and never spoke to us, the victims of torture. I cannot think of another inquiry like it. Imagine that inquests into genocide in Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia took place hearing only from the murderers but not from those who suffered, or their families?

If Jones had asked, I would have told him that his footnote 595—where the CIA asserts that I only suffered "forced standing, attention grasps and cold temperatures" in the dark prison in Afghanistan—was a cruel joke.

I would have described the week I spent in a dark pit hanging by my wrists, forever on tiptoes, while my shoulders gradually dislocated—what the Spanish Inquisition used to call "strappado." I would have mentioned the ear-splitting noise blasted at me round the clock and the beatings every time I began to sleep.

Despite the omissions in The Report and the actual Senate committee report, Rabbani wrote of the film, "I am sorry that I am unlikely to see it for myself, but I would like to thank those who made it, as well as the real Daniel Jones."

"Nothing can change what happened to me, as that is in the past," he concluded. "I do want the world to know about the torture we suffered at the hands of CIA officers, though, because if we do not learn from history we will be doomed to repeat our mistakes—and I would hate for anyone else to endure what I have had to endure. For now, I encourage everyone to watch The Report, to get just a taste of the truth."

Watch The Report's trailer:

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