when i wz young myself, a senior at my school got drunk, got behind the wheel of a car, and ploughed it into a tree, putting himself in hospital and killing his best friend, who wz sat in the passenger seat — another senior, and the two of them the only seniors whose names i still remember after all these years… (we all thought “uh-oh, there go we!”)

The clever counter at the moment to Michael Winterbottom’s The Road to Guantanamo seems to be that it doesn’t properly account for why the four teens from Tipton crossed the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan as a world-historical war wz raging (unless they wanted to take part in that war). But it depends a bit what “properly account for” is required to mean: i doubt the kid at my school, who wz much the same age, could properly account for the behaviour which led to the death of his best friend. “WHY did you do it? WHY did you think it wz a good idea to get drunk and drive a car?” — answer (most likely) = “I DON’T KNOW!” Tone somewhat truculent, somewhat defiant, plus guilty, ashamed, apologetic, humiliated, frightened of course, but never admitting it — the unspoken words being “I’M A TEENAGER! IT’S MY JOB TO DO STUPID THINGS– IT’S YOURS TO STOP ME! YOU’RE THE GROWN-UPS HERE! WHERE WERE YOU?”

as a default argument about motivation, “teens are complete idiots sometimes” accounts for quite a lot here, WHATEVER they imagined their politics to be — ie whether their story as winterbottom conveys it is true (pack of goofy young brummies abroad get COMPLETELY OUT OF THEIR DEPTH bcz they have no brains) or whether they were on a “radical” mission (DUDE WHERE’S MY JIHAD?) — and really it’s not as if their idiotic choices were the only ones at issue here: for any number of reasons, practical even more than moral, the guantanamo “system” is totally a rotten way of gathering reliable information, even about the people caught up in it (even when they mainly only have themselves to blame for being caught up in it) — teens ARE complete idiots sometimes, and there’s no way to read this film in which the tipton three weren’t nitwits, innocent and sinned against or sinister and blameworthy, but when the adults all around them are being so stupid also — dispensing with all the conventions and procedures long-evolved to SIDESTEP exactly these kinds of (avoidable) mistakes (i mean CHECKING ALIBIS for example) — then things are likely to get a lot worse before they get better