Monday, November 24, 2008

Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) - 3½ Stars

After seeing this movie I'm really afraid of these prisoners ever being let out of custody. They're sure to take justified revenge against "US", for their inhumane treatment given to them in the prisons of Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo Bay. I wasn't terribly shocked by the treatment as through movies, I've been exposed to what I imagine most prisoners of war go through mentally and physically before escape or release. I just didn't think America would be right up there on the list, with some other parts of the world, for this "over the top" treatment. If it were Bin Laddin in one of the cells, I am sure most of America would be joining in to kick his ass, but a lot of these prisoners have nothing to do with our war, and are being inhumanely treated just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

What I was surprised to learn from the documentary that only 7% of the prisoners, were actually captured by Americans. The other 93% were brought in from warlords who profited by them going to prison, and various other "non-terrorism" crimes, from Iraq and Pakistan. Without a trial, or any representation, these prisoner's lives will never be the same.

Collen Powell is quoted as saying "it was the worst day of my life" recalling his speech regarding having told the United States now had credible confessions and proof that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, also training for chemical warfare. This confession was received by water boarding a main suspected player of Sept. 11th. Water boarding, now there's a technique I had little knowledge about but, its the act of pouring water into someones mouth over a cloth so it gives the victim the sensation of drowning. Wanting to pin Sept. 11th on some thing concrete, we water boarded confessions that help secure the Iraq war.

This movie sort of parallels my movie from yesterday, Standard Operating Procedures. It really gives you a good look, from the inside, on how these young soldiers can get caught up in the moment and perhaps cross the line of what is "humane treatment." The sad part is, most of the soldiers would have never acted the way they did unless presented with their circumstances and given orders to do so. Remember, Sept. 11th had just exploded across our nation, they thought Iraq was housing nuclear and chemical weapons, rounds are exploding all around them, their fellow soldiers are being killed by civilian looking citizens strapped with bombs, their safety was threatened, and basically survival techniques took over. These soldiers were told the men in their custody, were directly responsible and do what's necessary to get information. They became so caught up in the moment from adrenalin and their surroundings, that I feel, for at least most of them, their behavior somewhat justified. You go with the flow and the brotherhood of your unit for it's he/she who watches your back. But, I believe most of the blame goes a whole lot farther up the chain of command.

The main story of this film is based on an Afghan taxi driver named, Dilawar, who vanished one day from his family, after taking three men for a ride. In 2002, Dilawar was taken by American soldiers and brought to Bagram Air Force Base for a suspicious substance that was in the trunk of his car. I am still unsure of what exactly that was, but it had the characteristics of something similar that was just used in a deadly rocket attack.

Dilawar, was shackled by his hand to the ceiling with a burlap bag over his head, and left for 20 hours at a time. Not being able to relax, strain on the wrists from allowing you body to not stand, sleep deprivation, light deprivation and the humiliation of being stripped naked, were used to hopefully gain information from him. The interrogators were also allowed to give kicks to the legs if the prisoner would not talk. Dilawar deteriorated quickly in this environment and 5 days later, he would die from his wounds. He was iced down and hidden away in a room while military decided how to handle the situation quickly. But something had to be done as his ice packing melted away. He was dressed and put on a gurney with a needle in his arm, to take him away in front of the other prisoners. They did not want a riot on their hands. The medical examiner expressed that even if Dilawar would have lived, his legs were so badly beaten, they would have needed to be amputated. After a 2nd prisoner died, 2 days later, an investigation was started, and just as quickly ended, with the blame being put on the soldiers directly involved.

I feel this movie, and others like it I have reviewed already, should be seen by the majority of people in America who sit back and believe the spoon feeding of propaganda our government shoves down our throats. Before you take sides, try to see many angels of the whole picture, to get to the truth that's hidden away from us. Lets face it, war is good business, but it's definitely not pretty.

2007 - Taxi to the Dark Side - Tribeca Film Festival - Best Documentary Feature
2007 - Taxi to the Dark Side - Writers Guild of America - Best Documentary Screenplay

Director: Alex Gibney
Writer: Alex Gibney
Producers: Susannah Shipman, Alex Gibney, Eva Orner
I viewed 11/08


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the selection. Going to look for this one.


Anonymous said...

If nothing else, beautiful photograph.

Flick Watcher