Taxi to the Dark Side

[Warning: Conservatives who believe that the Iraq war is going well should probably not read this review.]

There have been quite a few documentaries about the ongoing “war on terror,” and I’ve seen many of them. But Taxi to the Dark Side made me more angry than any of the others. I came out thinking that impeachment would be way too kind, and that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld should be tried and (probably) convicted of war crimes.

The subject matter is the “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by the United States since 9/11, starting with a specific case of an innocent man who was tortured to death, and showing how this is indicative of a pattern driven from the upper reaches of the command chain, and not just a few bad apples on the night shift.

I should definitely warn anyone considering seeing this film that it includes some very disturbing images, but the subject matter is too important to ignore. The soul of our country is at stake. I’ll give it 3.5 stars out of 4 stars.

I saw this on 1/13/2008 at the Camera Cinema Club, where we heard a pre-recorded interview with the director, who also directed Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. I wrote down a few notes:

  • There is a grand manipulation of the public going on, through fear
  • This shows how useless torture is, unless your goal is to hear what you want to hear, even if it is not true
  • The torture also drives al Queda’s thirst for revenge
  • No trials have occurred
  • The director’s father, who was an interrogator after World War II, says this has got to stop
  • We need to show those in power how angry we are
  • Even the Democrats are complicit; for example, Nancy Pelosi know about this and did not act

We also heard a little more background on the director’s father. He interrogated kamikazees, and unlike present-day interrogators, he knew their culture and their language. The whole process took a year or more, but it was effective.

The film is nominated for an Oscar®, and the nomination is very much deserved.


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