By Jack Hoffman
This is a country that takes human rights seriously.” “We do not torture.” “It’s against our laws and against our values.” That’s your Vice President Dick Cheney.
Just a few days ago, before a Senate sub-committee, General Michael Hayden, head of the C.I.A., admitted the intelligence service did in fact use water-boarding – but only on one prisoner. He would add he claimed it was legal then and now it is not. He must have heard Bob Dylan’s song The Times are a Changing. I guess that just burns the last remnant of pants Mr. Bush has left on him. I thought he ran out of clothes long ago! Denying the use and advocacy of torture – we can add a few more falsehoods. Ever since these denials, evidence of brutal treatment of prisoners in this war seems to transform these folks into piles of mandacious dung – shit that this administration has accumulated since the first day it came into power.
This week in a limited theater engagement throughout the country Oscar-nominated documentary Taxi to the Dark Side will open (hopefully in a cinema near you). The movie highlights the ordeal of an Afgan taxi driver who was detained and beaten to death by American forces. PBS newsman Bill Moyers has called the movie “one of the best documentaries on the war.” “Not in a while has the truth hit so hard” From one movie fan: “the movie was to difficult to watch.” Reviewers have given it 3 1/2 stars to 4 stars. I have yet to see the movie, but I have read enough about it to be more disturbed about our handling of detainees and prosecution of crimes against any higher officials.
Here’s the movie’s story: In January 2002, Dilawan, age 22, the taxi driver in the movie, and his passengers were driving innocently down a road when American forces detained them. They were accused of a rocket attack on the American forces. Dilawan was taken to Bagran prison, a makeshift prison hurriedly set up by the C.I.A. The movie, for the first time, exposes footage actually shot at Bagran.
Five days later, Dilawan was found dead in the prison severely beaten. The death certificate lists death due to “homicide resulting from a pipe beating.” It should be noted that out of 100 homicides in American prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, 37 have been listed as homicides.
After the New York Times did a serious investigation on the story, many of the Americans stationed at Bagran have given testimony in the movie to the brutality by Americans on the prisoners. They even described some incidents of the brutality being viewed by military brass – on h o o d e d , s h a c k l e d detainees.
J a ck Cloon, an F.B.I. agent (I’m sure f o r m e r ) describes how guards at the prison wrapped a certain al Shayk up in duct tape and put him in a plywood box” for his own protection.”
The movie reveals the fact that the actual rocket attack that Dilawan was accused of was in truth an act of friendly fire by Americans on Americans. The commander of the prison was later awarded a Silver Star for bravery and transferred to the now infamous Abu Ghraib prison. You can draw your own conclusions
So what has happened to our newly elected Congress? The Congress that was going to go after all these criminals who have acted under the name of the U.S.A.? Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi said, “I will not put impeachment on the table.” When asked about impeachment, Congressman Markey replied: “It will just tie up Congress.” Like they are passing so much legislation! Our own Congressman Jim McGovern said, “I am concentrating my efforts in the 110th Congress on ending the war in Iraq, which I believe to be the most important single issue facing this Congress.” Well, let’s see: the President has gotten everything he wanted in terms of dollars, the war is as intense as ever and Congress finds enough time to hang Roger Clemens.
To all those members of Congress, especially those claiming to be progressive liberals, you are as complicitous in these crimes against humanity as the Bush administration. Committed in the “best interests of national security,” no doubt! Shame on you all.