National Geographic Explorer: Inside Guantanamo Bay (2009) Review

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“National Geographic Explorer” Inside Guantanamo Bay (2009): 6 out of 10: National Geographic was given access to all but one of the various prisons at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base on the island nation of Cuba. The base holds prisoners captured while fighting the war on terror; and was used to house said prisoners without those pesky habeas corpus rulings or Geneva Convention rights. (The idea was that the base is in Cuba so it did not count as constitutional territory like a regular military base or embassy would; out of bounds, if you will. Yes, an adult thought this up; why do you ask?)

Well, needless to say, you do not have to be a flaming liberal to see how holding prisoners indefinitely without charge or redress is a bad idea. The Supreme Court promptly slapped the Bush administration into next Tuesday; and politicians of all stripes quickly began defending themselves against Americans who had previously read that pesky Constitution. The Obama administration has quickly moved to close the jail, and therefore this chapter in American history. (Spoiler alert here we are eleven years later and I believe it is still open). The jail at Guantanamo will go down with Prohibition and the 55-mile an hour speed limit as one of those what were they thinking moments/ All of which makes a good chunk of Inside Guantanamo Bay mute. (Turns out I was/am… optimistic)

What it leaves us with is a military version of MSNBC’s Lockup. In fact, Guantanamo so resembles a regular prison in America, one really wonders why the most of the prisoners cannot be moved to say Leavenworth or Pelican Bay. A few things I learned from the hour and a half documentary? The prison “guards” are just kids and woefully undertrained. Don’t be a dick seems a good rule of thumb. Female civil rights lawyers are sexy. Cuba has some big lizards. I have George W Bush fatigue. (I cringed when they showed his clips.) (Please note this review was originally written in 2009. I now, in spring 2020, look back on George W Bush clips with a nostalgia of gentler times like I was Hermie from the Summer of ’42)

Overall, more of an interesting historical novelty rather than a cutting edge documentary. Guantanamo is no Abu Ghraib and the sailors, mostly, have nothing to be ashamed of in the way they conducted themselves. As for the politicians on both sides of the aisle? Well, they should have known better.

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