Monday, April 27, 2009

Taxi to the Dark Side

Taxi to the Dark Side is a documentary on torture. It documents the true story of an Afghan taxi driver to picks up his fare one day and travels into oblivion. He never returns. He is an innocent man and he is brutalized and humiliated by Americans in an Afghan prison camp and he dies from the harsh treatment. He is tortured to death. The film is not pretty. In fact, it is disgusting and offensive, but it shows what our government authorized and it is shameful.

The release of the Bush Administration documents on justifying torture has created a big stink about what torture is, why it is or is not needed and whether it broke laws or not. From the political right, Karl Rove says, “the techniques are ruined” because Al Qaeda now knows our techniques, as if they didn’t know before. Sean Hannity says, “Water boarding is not torture,” and he’s volunteered to receive the treatment for charity. Bill O’Reilly jumped on the same bandwagon spinning his version justifying the “enhanced” techniques. Rush Limbaugh railed his audience about the release of confidential information calling the Obama Administration irresponsible and playing Cheney’s comments over and over. Dick Cheney, still deluded that he personally made America safe by using the techniques, called the release of the documents a “mind set” that will lead to making America unsafe. Congressman Boehner and Senator McConnell are also complaining about the public release of the memos. And, of all the cable news corporations, only MSNBC is taking a position of transparency and justice instead of hiding behind our skirts and denying that “we” torture.

The arguments are being framed and the seeds of doubt are planted to the point that we, the public, doubt that these techniques are torture at all. The answer is “YES,” they are torture. If you have any doubt, please watch the film or listen to John McCain. Yes, they are torture. Were they authorized by the very top levels of our government? Yes, they were. Should we hold those individuals accountable in a court of law? Yes, we should.

I was so incensed by the spin and lies from the Republican right that I sent my family a scathing email suggesting, nearly demanding, that they watch Taxi to the Dark Side too. I also ask them to “pass it on.” Of course, I doubt that they did either of those things. They, too, like to hide their heads in the sand rather than face our collective sins. If I had my way, I would do like Eisenhower did in Germany when the concentration camps were discovered. He ordered that all German citizens living in towns and cities close to the camps to be subjected to personal tours through the camps. In fact, the German citizens were forced to clean up the camps, to bury the dead and to take care of the living. We, the collective American citizens, should be required to see the film.

But, the argument that a trial would be too disruptive will probably prevail. We can’t take it. We would rather hide our heads in the sand. We don’t like our Presidents to be held accountable for their negligence, bad decisions and mismanagement, even when they knowingly flaunt the laws of our country. We are wimps. We would rather someone low in the hierarchy, such as Private Lindley England, a “bad apple,” take the brunt of our outrage instead of put the person responsible for encouraging her behavior in jail, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, among a few. As for President Bush, he has an option to plead insanity and, in my mind, he may have a point.

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