My Guantánamo Diary

Prior documentaries have shown us the KFC, McDonald’s, and Starbucks that serve Gitmo’s jailors. And the air-conditioned green mermaid is the first place Mahvish Rhuksana Khan and her fellow attorneys visit before counseling the predominantly Afghan inmates she meets in My Guantánamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me (Public Affairs, $25.95). Kidnapped into legal limbo for years on end (though last month given new grounds for appeal by the Supreme Court), they love our American burgers, fries, and pizza. Raised by her Afghan physician parents in Michigan, law student Khan speaks fluent Pashto, so she signs up in 2006 to translate for top lawyers doing pro bono defense work on behalf of the detainees. (One is an 80-year-old, another a journalist from Al Jazeera, another a friendly goatherd whose handwritten English phrasebook is impounded.) Khan concludes, “I can honestly say that I don’t believe any of the Afghans I met were guilty of crimes against the United States.” But she knows she only met a small cross-section, admitting “had I met some of these prisoners in Afghanistan five years ago, they would have wanted to cane me for not covering properly.” Khan interpolates bits of her life growing up Muslim-American (not quite so colorful as Towelhead), and she also could’ve spent more time on her subsequent visit to Kabul (where she’s warned that U.S. troops are more dangerous than the Taliban). But as Gitmo heads toward probable closure, Khan’s Diary provides a preview of what will undoubtedly be more, and more alarming, stories to come. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, www.townhallseattle.org. $5. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Wed., July 2, 7 p.m., 2008

 
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