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Difficult to Watch, Important Polemical Documentary Critical of Torture Used by American Soliders
on June 29, 2008
Having seen "Taxi to the Dark Side" nearly three weeks ago at a private screening in midtown Manhattan, my mind is still reeling from the harsh, brutal images of torture committed by United States soldiers against suspected terrorists and irregulars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This may be the most important documentary film on the "War on Terror", and while it is a liberal polemic film, it does an effective job of arguing its case by showing its graphic images, instead of having someone like filmmaker Michael Moore seen onscreen ranting and raving. The central saga which runs through the nearly two-hour long film is the last taxi ride of a young Afghan taxi driver, Dilawar, an innocent bystander who was picked up by American troops, tortured, and died from his severe injuries at the American detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan.
"Taxi to the Dark Side" deserves the ample recognition it has earned, and may be remembered as a superb documentary film in the tradition of Edward R. Murrow's "Harvest of Shame". But it isn't perfect for the following reasons. First it accepts as gospel truth, the fact that most of those being held by American soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba are as innocent as Dilawar was. Second it lacks more insightful analysis from the likes of noted military defense attorney Eugene Fidell, who represented my cousin, former U. S. Army chaplain James Yee (Much to my amazement, Yee's filmed testimony was not included at all in the final cut of this film.). Will "Taxi to the Dark Side" change the opinions of many? Hopefully it will force those who've seen it to ask serious, probing questions about inhumane treatment of prisoners by some American soldiers, and perhaps persuade them to convince the Federal political leadership in Washington, D. C. to act more aggressively to avert similar instances of prisoner mistreatment in the future.