Taxi To the Dark Side
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"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.
A major sub-plot is the story of Dilawar, an Afghan taxi driver who ended up dying from injuries suffered while he was held in Bagram, a former Soviet prison coverted into a U.S. detention center for suspected terroists. However, the film explains how Dilawar was actually an innocent man turned in by an actual terroist seeking to throw investigators off his trail. One expert explains how only about 1% of the detainees are actual terroists and that the vast majority were not even arrested by the U.S. military. But rather were turned in by Pakastani and Afghani bounty hunters seeking financial compensation.
The numerous forms of abuse inflicted on these foreign detainees is depicted in gruesome detail. The methods of torture included not only water boarding but various means of sexual humiliation such as having women's panties placed on their heads, forced masturbation and female military officers caressing them while whispering "your mother is a whore" into their ears. The ultimate goal was inflicting a complete mental, physical and emotional breakdown on the prisoners. Other tactics used were sleep depravation achieved by handcuffing detainees to the ceiling for days at a time and the sort of brutal physical assaults that led to the death of the innocent Dilawar.
Of course, it was the low ranking soldiers who ended up facing punishment when these acts of illegal abuse were discovered. But the film makes it very clear that they were simply following orders handed down from the highest levels of the Bush administration.Read more ›
Well that quote came to mind as I watched this depressing 2007 Academy Award Winner directed by Alex Gibney (ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM -also excellent). This time Gibney explores America's journey into darkness that is the so-called "war on terror" (BTW people, when you hear the words "war on" before anything you can bet it is a total disaster.). I was reminded of Nietzsche's warning and then of other lines from that great source of dark and enigmatic quotations..."Man is the cruelest animal." "Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule." But back to the first quote, I think the men that got us into this situation already were nihilistic, souless beasts and so hardly did much changing. What we should realize is that *they changed America.* I am well aware of America's "mistakes" and sins of the past but things are different now... and many of us feel it. On top of that -and more importantly- sadly many, all too many, of the people they chased after weren't monsters at all, but just people. Regular people in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Take the story of "a young rural Afghan cabdriver", named Dilawar. Turned out he was falsely accused of helping to plan an attack on American troops. Dilawar was tortured for about two days and died. He is presented here as "the first fatal victim of Vice President Dick Cheney's devotion to 'working the dark side'--torturing, humiliating, and otherwise abusing prisoners in the 'Global War on Terror.'" We are told his story by the very soldiers that killed Dilwar, themselves shown to both tools and victims of the implementation of the Bush policy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very disturbing ! The men that followed the commands from above had to pay the prices. The actions, however, are inexcusable. Read morePublished 1 month ago by penpal
A fabulous documentary about military torture during wartime. Good to show political crime as those in power can cover their crimes and not be charged b/c they define what... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Biased Perspective
Exposes the ugliness of our wrong-headed invasion of IraqPublished 2 months ago by SlowButSureThinker
It exposes truth. Blindness can never help us. Enthralling.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Since 9/11 the Right Wing has espoused the need to torture suspected terrorists. Politicians have downplayed this by using such "safe" language as "enhanced... Read morePublished 7 months ago by D. Roberts
Excellent documentary. Thought provoking and comprehensive treatment of a complicated set of issues. I teach high school social studies in New York. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Winston Smith