Skip to comments.TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE(OSCAR Winner - reviewed by Roger Ebert)
Posted on 02/24/2008 11:48:29 PM PST by L.A.Justice
We have to work the dark side.
So said Dick Cheney a few days after 9/11, discussing the war on terror. Is this what he meant?
In December 2002, an Afghan named Dilawar had scraped together enough money to buy a taxi. He was fingered by a paid informant as a terrorist connected with a rocket attack. Taken to the American prison at Bagram, Afghanistan, he was tortured so violently that he died after five days. An autopsy showed that his legs were so badly mauled, they would have had to be amputated, had he lived. Later, the informant who collected U.S. money for fingering him was proven to be the terrorist actually responsible for the crime the innocent Dilawar was charged with.
An official report said Dilawar died of "natural causes." The New York Times found an autopsy report describing the death as a homicide. After a belated investigation, a few U.S. soldiers were accused of the murder. No officers were involved. Dilawar was the first casualty after we started to "work the dark side." In all the torture scandals since, few officers have ever been charged. If all of these crimes took place without their knowledge, they would appear to be guilty of dereliction of duty, if nothing else.
Alex Gibney's horrifying documentary "Taxi to the Dark Side" uses the death of Dilawar as an entry point into a remorseless indictment of the Bush administration's unofficially condoned policy of the torture of suspects, which is forbidden by U.S. constitutional and military law and international agreements, but justified under the "necessity" of working the dark side. Gibney interviews U.S. soldiers who participated in such torture sessions (under orders, they thought, although their superiors claimed innocence, all the way up to Bush, who claimed ignorance of torture even after he had seen official Pentagon and intelligence reports). They seem sorry, sobered, and confused.
The film has television footage of administration officials demonstrably lying about what they knew and when they knew it. And it leads to Gibney's conversation with his own father, who wan an interrogator of prisoners in World War II and says not only was such behavior forbidden, but it wouldn't have worked, anyway. If you torture a man long enough, he will tell you anything to make you stop. If you act on that "information," you are likely on a fool's errand.
Gibney is the same filmmaker who made the merciless "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" (2005), a documentary where he produced actual tape recordings of Enron operatives creating the California "power shortage" by ordering power plants shut down and joking that a few grandmothers might have to die without air conditioning for Enron to make more millions. By the same logic, lives may have to be lost to torture to produce intelligence, although there is precious little evidence that the strategy has worked. And besides, is that what we do, as Americans? Are those our values? Then what do we stand for?
Gibney widens the net to include the illegal detainees at Guantanamo, most of whom have never been charged with any crime. He talks with former administration officials and spokesmen who didn't like what they were seeing and resigned. His conversations with the American torturers themselves are the most heartbreaking; young kids for the most part, they thought they were doing their duty. And he includes never before seen photos and images of torture at work. One tactic: Prisoners have their hands tied above their heads, and are made to balance on boxes in pools of electrified water. Would they really be electrocuted if they fell off? Would you like to try? Sen. John McCain, who endured unimaginable torture during the Vietnam conflict, is among the most outspoken critics of this strategy.
There are those, their numbers shrinking every day, who would agree we have to "work the dark side." Growing numbers of us are yearning for the light. This movie does not describe the America I learned about in civics class, or think of when I pledge allegiance to the flag. Yet I know I will get the usual e-mails accusing me of partisanship, bias, only telling one side, etc. What is the other side? See this movie, and you tell me.
Maybe I should listened to some of you out there and skipped the Oscar telecast...
I was very disgusted when Gibney, the winner, gave his speech...I was cursing...It would not be a good idea to print what words I used.
I thought that it was nice of the Academy to have some US military members, from Iraq, to announce the names of short-length documentary nomineees...Then the documentary winner was announced...A documentary asserting that some members of US military violated "human rights"...What was the point? I might have been less annoyed if the Academy didn't involve US military personnel as announcers...
I remember when Michael Moore got his award a few years ago...I was annoyed back then but not as much as this year. I heard some members of audience booed Moore. But, this year, I have not hear any boos for Mr. Gibney. I just heard the loud applauses...
Gibney dedicated his award to two people...I guess they were "victims" of US military.
He mentioned ABU GRAIB, GITMO, and "renditions"...As horrible things. I don't think any prisoner was murdered or mutilated in ABU GRAIB or GITMO by US troops. I think we know what terrorists do with captured US civilians or soldiers...Their bodies are usually mutilated...Do remember beheadings of US civilians in Iraq? I don't know if Michael Savage still has those gruesome photos on his Website...
Ok Roger, you overrated, fat toad; we get it. You hate America and you gave 4 stars to an anti American film. Proud of yourself, aren’t ya?
Is the whole movie a lie? The soldiers in it are lying?
What do you do?
Be honest - if you can.
So now that we’ve established that you would in fact torture someone the question becomes under what circumstances torture is appropriate. Not if torture is ever appropriate or whether or not it reflects our values.
I am soooo glad I stopped watching the Oscars after 9/11—which I used to watch very faithfully every year. I stopped watching all award shows. It just seemed so shallow after 9/11. I just didn’t care about “stars” patting each other on the back anymore.
OK— I cheated a couple of times and watched bits when “Lord of the Rings” was nominated. But never an entire telecast again.
It sounds as if I would have thrown things at my TV tonight. Grrrrr.
just hollywood being hollywood
Roger Ebert, like most liberals, likes to pretend that our nation of hundreds of millions is now just as evil as the 9/11 terrorists because one person died from torture.
I'm not supporting the movie's assertions, I'm merely, for the sake of argument, taking Ebert's position that the movie tells the truth.
That's liberal logic for you. Stalin, Castro, so many other leftists--their wholesale use of torture gets a shrug and a "But we're supposed to be better than they are..."
In fighting a new kind of war, mistakes are going to be made, all kinds of techniques tried--that's not a glib excuse, it's merely fact. That's how the world goes. FDR, who I am guessing Ebert adores, executed German spies found in the US. HUAC worked under Democratic presidents. (You wouldn't know it from reading Ebert and his type--Joe McCarthy, a Senator, somehow is behind that HOUSE body). JFK, LBJ, Clinton ... The bodies they piled up in invading Vietnam and bombing Kosovo? Well, ya know, that's nothing compared to one guy who died wrongly while we were groping our way in the dark trying to stop the potential killing of thousands or more through dirty bombs, anthrax, etc.
But hey, Roger and his friends are all-knowing--THEY know how to defend us. Let's just turn all our defense procedures over to them--they'll never make a mistake, ever.
BTW, the use of troops to announce an award was so telling of the Left Coast's "We support the troops, just not the mission" bullsh*t. Let them announce a nothing category right before a category that had anti-war films among the likely winners. Real classy.
The only Oscar I pay any attention to is the music of Oscar Peterson (RIP Oscar, Aug 1925 —> Dec 2007)
“Is the whole movie a lie? The soldiers in it are lying?”
I don’t know whether the whole movie is a lie or not.
I don’t know if the soldiers in it are lying or not.
The point is that true American patriots would not be producing such garbage films nor would any true patriot be applauding them for doing so.
Recently, some other (less talented than Gibney) Canadian assclown made a "documentary" about "the Haditha massacre". That propaganda film had naive viewers believing that Marines went on a rampage and murdered 24 Iraqi civilians when in truth, the deaths were the result of a carefully staged insurgent ambush. Most of the Marines involved have already been exonerated and it looks like the remaining ones will soon be exonerated.
To turn a phrase, "Films can lie and liars can film".
Ebert: “What is the other side?”
Well..Perhaps Ebert and Gibney should take their bums to Iraq and find the bodies of the two missing American soldiers that our troops have been unable to find. We know what happened to the third soldier..He was found tortured/dead and floating down a river.
Oh..and the NY Slimes... Maybe they would like to send some of their “wonderful researchers” over to Iraq to find and question the terrorists that did these horrendous acts to our soldiers.
It doesn’t matter whether the facts alleged in the film are true or false. Propaganda like this critical of our nation and our military should not be made during a time of war.
Of course mistakes are sometimes made, as they are in all wars, including WW II, but you didn’t see them pointing out those mistakes during that war. This is TREASON and Should Not Be Permitted.
another lib/dem anti-american praising another lib/dem anti-american movie that will make NO money....
let hollywood keep making this crap....no one buys tickets now....lets hope the trend continues and eventually they outsource all the movies somewhere else....
afterall...on the net...the news states all oscar winners were foreigners.....where are the american winners????
guess the over blown ebert...just like his hero ~ michael moore was too busy trying to prop up more anti-american films!!!!
THAT's the other side, Ebert, you bloated windbag!
Wouldn’t it be nice to run into Gibney or ebert on the street?
A good old as*whipping would help both of these “sallyboys”
This hate America crowd really frosts me.
I agree, L.A.Justice. I'm still steaming over this segment from last night's Oscar telecast. The tepid applause for our troops compared with the LOUD ovation for Gibney's despicable anti-war / hate Bush comments really says it all about the Hollywood crowd...
Excellent post (#8).
Ebert once worked for Russ Meyer, one of the greatest Republican filmmakers ever. I’d rather watch a Meyer flick than most of Hollywood’s debris.
Interesting. I’ll have to check out movies by Russ Meyer... I’ve never heard of him.
Adults Only. But Great Entertainment.
The last movie I saw in a theater was the third Lord of the Rings film. I'm happy NOT to support a Hollywood industry that hates people like me.
What you support you get more of. Your instincts are correct - quit watching.
Meyer won an Oscar for BReast director.
I've seen a few movies in a theater since LOTR, but I haven't been excited by any movie since the LOTR trilogy, which was spectacular.
Uh, yeah... I just checked Russ Meyer’s filmography on imdb.com. Yowsa... no wonder I’ve never heard of him.
Was always an admirer of the work of Meyer’s ex-wife, Kitten.
My husband dragged me to one of his films in the 60s. I told him if he enjoyed that so much he should get his own breasts blown up.
“You just caught a terrorist that you believe planted a nuclear device in Los Angeles.”
I must have missed this. When did this happen???
You're right - it's a classic
I agree. The LOTR films were the only ones I’ve really been excited over in recent years. I have enjoyed some other modern films, though. But, yeah, most of what comes out of Hollywood these days is quite lame.