News

Tale of bin Laden's driver to go Hollywood

Carol Rosenberg
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba - It's true that a production company owned by Hollywood heartthrob George Clooney optioned the story of Osama bin Laden's driver.

Not quite true are tabloid reports that Clooney is reserving for himself the role of retired Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Swift, the former Navy JAG officer who championed the case of driver Salim Hamdan from the prison camps to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hollywood publicist Stan Rosenfield told The Miami Herald by telephone Tuesday that Grant Heslov, who wrote ``Good Night, and Good Luck'' with Clooney, optioned a recently released book on the Hamdan case by New York writer Jonathan Mahler.

Heslov and Clooney are partners in the Smoke House production company.

"There's been no decision on casting, directing, or anything of that nature," said Rosenfield, Clooney's publicist.

"They do intend to develop it as a motion picture," Rosenfield said, but not necessarily any time soon. "This is a long process. Sometimes it takes 10 years."

Hamdan, 40, is the lone war court convict at Guantanamo.

A military jury convicted him of providing material support for terrorism last week and sentenced him to time served plus less than five months, meaning he could be eligible for release at New Year's.

Under Bush administration policy, Hamdan can also be held at Guantanamo Bay Navy Base indefinitely as an "enemy combatant" - as long as there is a war on terrorism and Defense Department officials independently deem him too dangerous to go home to his native Yemen.

The full title of the Mahler book is ``The Challenge: Hamdan v Rumsfeld and the Fight over Presidential Power.''

It tells the tale of the civilian and military lawyers who took the case of the driver from Yemen to the high court, and eventually sunk the White House's first draft of a plan to try Guantanamo detainees by military commission.

Hamdan had maintained his innocence from his very first meeting behind the razor wire in Guantanamo with Pentagon-appointee Swift, in 2004. He said he took the job of driving bin Laden in Afghanistan for the money - $200 a month - and at his trial apologized to the six U.S. military jurors for any pain his work had caused.

The jury acquitted the father of two with a fourth-grade education of a second charge of conspiracy, seeking to hold him responsible for a worldwide string of al-Qaida terrorism.

Rosenfield declined to say how much the company paid for the movie rights.

Mahler likewise declined to comment on the details.

"I'm thrilled that the book is in the hands of such quality filmmakers," he said by e-mail from New York, "and have no doubt that they're going to do justice to this extraordinary story."

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image