This is the true story director Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) uses as a starting point for Taxi to the Dark Side, his Oscar-winning investigation on torture practices and prisoner mistreatment conducted by the United States in a post-9/11 world, where the Geneva Conventions don’t apply.
Gibney utilizes every source available—interviews with numerous military intelligence/police (some of whom are torturers) and detainee Mohammed al-Qahtani (who recollects his experiences at Guantanamo), interrogation logs, stock clips, etc.—to show what most Americans choose to ignore. The Dilawar story stayed out of the limelight until a 2005 New York Times exposé (which you can read HERE).
Gibney dissects incidents at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay, where techniques such as sleep deprivation, beatings, and waterboarding are encouraged, as part of President Bush’s idea of “American Justice.” Also examined is Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, which gained international notoriety in 2004 when “a few bad apples” stripped, leashed, and forced prisoners to masturbate for cameras.
Taxi to the Dark Side is one of the most important documentaries to be released this decade. It’s a thorough exploration that opens our eyes, even when we choose (or are told) to shut them.
So what became of Dilawar? He was the wrong man, set up by Jan Baz, the one responsible for the rocket attack. Dilawar was chained to a ceiling for hours, forced to stay awake, and struck repeatedly until he died five days later. The military’s claim to the cause of death? Natural causes.
Frank Gibney Interview (15:40): Director Gibney sits down with his late father, Frank, who recollects his years as a military interrogator during WWII. A fitting addition to the disc, as Frank Gibney wasn’t included in the feature.
Outtakes (21:32): “Deleted Scenes” would have been more accurate, but regardless, there are five here, each with introductions by Gibney, and each as insightful as any scene included in the feature.
Alex Gibney on PBS NOW (17:56) is a post-Oscars interview with the director, who focuses on Taxi to the Dark Side, interrogation, and torture.
Robert Scheer Interviews Alex Gibney on Link TV (13:46): This chat from February between Gibney and TruthDig.com editor Robert Scheer covers the same topics as the previous interview.